Miles for Mills | Why do you run? | A Vietnam Veteran’s Story

One of the Travis Mills Foundation Team’s favorite aspects of the Miles for Mills Memorial Day 5K is the stories of runners, walkers and handcyclists about why the run this particular race.

For many, it’s personal.

Turner, Maine resident Larry Marquis, is a U.S. Air Force veteran, serving seven years during the Vietnam War in Taiwan, loading conventional and nuclear weapons. If he did not enlist into the Air Force on his own terms, he would have been drafted.

“My number was 19, my birthday was the 19th, it was drawn on the 19th, and I would’ve left on the 19th. It was a bad number for me that year,” he said.

Larry runs the Miles for Mills Memorial Day Weekend 5K with a greater purpose.

“I guess it’s just something to do for my brothers and sisters,” he said.

Since SSG (Ret.) Travis Mills’ IED (improvised explosive device) injury in 2012 while on a deployment to Afghanistan causing him to lose portions of both arms and legs, he had to relearn how to complete many basic daily living functions, coining the term “recalibrated” to describe his new normal. Larry feels recalibrated, in a similar way.

“Because I’ve had my strokes, I’ve had to learn everything all over again. To me, Travis is a hero.”

Larry had two strokes on April 9, 2009. He said his inspiration drawn from Travis is why he competed in the Miles for Mills Memorial Day Weekend 5K for the first time last year.

A few years back at a local resource fair, Larry saw a three-wheel bike and became interested. Knowing he could not afford the bike himself, his son started a GoFundMe campaign to purchase it. Within three days, Larry had the money required to purchase the bike. The Afari Walking Bike from Mobella Mobility Works gives him the ability to walk and run with added support.

“It was made right there at the Air base and Navy base in Brunswick. That’s the only thing that I can use to walk with,” Larry said.

The Afari Walking Bike helps Larry to be able to give back to those in the military community by participating in events like the Miles for Mills Memorial Day Weekend 5K.

“It’s a way to give back, I guess. I’m 70 years old. I don’t know how much longer I can do this, but I’ll do it as long as I can.”

“I respect the gentleman for what he’s done,” Larry said of Travis. “Being a veteran, I just want to be part of what he does to help people.”

The Miles for Mills Memorial Day Weekend 5K is one of a handful of 5K races Larry competes in yearly including events for brain tumors, Alzheimer’s, aneurisms, and others.

“It is for a great cause and I got to meet [Travis] last year.”

The 12th annual Miles for Mills Memorial Day Weekend 5K, presented by New Balance Foundation, will be held Sunday, May 28 at Brunswick Landing, the former Brunswick Naval Air Station. The race will begin at 9 a.m. and end at 11 a.m. Registration is $30 per person and registrants receive a free t-shirt if signed up by April 1 (while supplies last). Registration is $35 after April 1.

About the Travis Mills Foundation

The Travis Mills Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports post-911 veterans who experienced life changing injuries while in service to our country. The Travis Mills Foundation Veterans Retreat offers our nation’s recalibrated veterans and their families a week-long, barrier free, all-expenses-paid experience at its world-class retreat in the Belgrade Lakes Region of Maine. It offers various programs that help these brave men and women overcome physical and emotional obstacles, strengthen their families, and provide well-deserved rest and relaxation. The Foundation also offers the Warrior PATHH Program (Progressive & Alternative Training for Helping Heroes) for combat veterans and first responders, the nation’s first of its kind program designed to cultivate and facilitate post-traumatic growth.  Learn more >>>