Collierville soldier runs St. Jude Marathon in Afghanistan | Community Spirit
While thousands of runners participated in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend Dec. 1 in 50-degree temperatures, one Collierville man completed his own half marathon in a much different climate and terrain.
Maj. Jean “John” Bennett, a Libya native and Collierville resident since 1999, has been stationed in Afghanistan since February 2011, where he is completing his third overseas combat tour. But that didn’t keep him from running 13.1 miles to benefit St. Jude Children Research Hospital.
Bennett, along with a crew of soldiers, ran 6.67 laps in freezing temperatures to finish the half marathon.
“Race started at 0700 at a balmy 24 degrees Fahrenheit,” Bennett said in an email. “Brrr. Good thing (there was) no wind.”
What started out as a competition between his stateside FedEx Manager David Loges, the event soon grew to include four friends in Afghanistan with Bennett.
“Interpreter ‘Joseph,’ LTC Herbert Joliat, CMDR Khary Hembry Bay and I,” he noted of who the original runners were. “(It was) an opportunity to bring soldiers together from different countries including Poland, and (my) Afghanistan interpreter, U.S. Army, Navy and Airforce – in addition to Department of State civilians.”
Before long, even more people signed on to participate or assist with the event.
“Fifteen more runners and nine support staff that wanted to motivate the runners while providing medical, timing and other support as needed,” Bennett recalled.
Bennett acknowledged that he hosted this race to give back to the hospital, which he did by bringing in more than $1,000 worth of donations.