Thursday, April 24, 2014

Pacheco’s marathon goal targets helping wounded marines

By ABBY ECKEL, Herald Staff Writer | 12/2/2013

When Sara Pacheco first learned she wouldn’t be running in the 2013 Boston Marathon, she was upset, she said, but soon found herself thankful she wasn’t there.

“It turned out to be a blessing in light of what happened at this year’s Boston Marathon,” Pacheco, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, said.

When Sara Pacheco first learned she wouldn’t be running in the 2013 Boston Marathon, she was upset, she said, but soon found herself thankful she wasn’t there.

“It turned out to be a blessing in light of what happened at this year’s Boston Marathon,” Pacheco, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, said.

By the time Pacheco found out she had qualified for the Boston Marathon, registration for the 2013 race already had closed, she said. The terrorist bombing attack at April’s marathon, in which three people were killed and more than 260 were injured, hasn’t scared Pacheco away from signing up for the 2014 marathon.

“I’m not afraid,” she said. “I know a lot of people say I should be scared, but I set out to do this and I’m going to do it no matter what.”

Pacheco first started training for the Marine Corps marathon in Washington D.C., she said, as it was something she had always wanted to do.

“It was a bucket list thing I wanted to do when I first enlisted,” she said. “My dad and I talked about going to D.C. to see the monuments and said ‘Let’s do this and stop putting it off and coming up with reasons,’ because that’s where the marathon was.”

With no expectations, Pacheco said, she started training for the Marine Corps marathon.

“I have a couple of friends I went to boot camp with and one I deployed with who started tracking me and keeping up with me,” she said. “They’re the ones who said I could Boston-qualify, so they made that my goal for the first marathon I did, and I Boston-qualified.”

Pacheco already is signed up and has a spot in the 2014 Boston Marathon, but the cost associated with running the race has her searching for funding options, she said.

“Originally I was trying to find a sponsor because [marathons] get expensive,” Pacheco said. “I found a few organizations that, if I would raise so much money, they’d pay my way there, but none of it hit close to home for me.”

Struggling with the fact she couldn’t find an appropriate organization with which to partner, Pacheco said, she finally came across one that holds a special place in her heart.

“I found out about the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund,” she said. “I wanted something that meant something to me and was near and dear and this one I personally know and that’s why I decided I was out the door with trying to find a sponsor or company to pay my way for this marathon. I’m just going to do this to do it.”

None of the money she hopes to raise will go to her, she said, it all goes to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.

“I want to do it for them, those that can’t do it and are missing out on so much,” she said. “One thing the fund does is they will provide rehabilitation for wounded soldiers, and one of the things they do is rehab through sports.”

Pacheco set up a web page where people can go to donate to her fundraising efforts, she said. She hopes to raise $10,000 by the time the race returns April 21, 2014.

“This is one of the best organizations out there as far as supporting service members,” she said. “They are a 501c3 and the beauty about them is that over 94 cents of every dollar goes directly to the marines, and they have very low overhead costs. They help family members of those wounded in the hospital and when it comes to paying for bills and groceries. They take the financial burden away from service members so they can focus on getting better.”

Though she’s now stationed in San Diego, she’s relying on the support of her hometown community of Ottawa to help her meet her fundraising goal, she said.

“One thing that has always been helpful to me is the support of the community,” Pacheco, whose parents, Sam and Maria Pacheco, own Maria’s Mexican restaurant, 314 S. Main St., said. “I think in doing this, I believe that Ottawa will help out and stand behind me. Even from the beginning when I left for boot camp after high school, the letters I received were overwhelming.”

To donate to Pacheco’s fundraiser for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, go to http://fundraising.semperfifund.org/fundraise?fcid=261974

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