Amanda Urquhart was having a “blah” day, just feeling a little stagnant at work and under appreciated – we’ve all been there.
“I felt justified in lying down on the couch and losing myself in social media instead of doing my walk-to-jog progression to get ready for the (Miles for Mills) 5K,” she said.
Then, social media hit her with a hard and much-needed reminder of why she was running the event, held virtually and in-person at Brunswick Landing in Brunswick, Maine, on Sunday, May 29 – Memorial Day weekend.
“It was a dear friend’s Alive Day,” said Amanda, a Texas resident. “He was injured in Afghanistan in 2011 and ultimately lost his left leg and part of his left hand.”
“I run for a man that is celebrating being alive today,” she added.
Amanda worked as a physical therapist assistant at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany during a surge of fighting in Iraq.
“I helped rehabilitate and med-evac soldiers through that facility while having a husband serve a 15-month tour in the same country,” she said, adding that daily, she saw soldiers arrive wounded from grisly fighting.
She learned acronyms like “RTD,” return to duty, which means a service member is not wounded to an extent that they can be sent home, but instead they are returned to the frontlines to fight.
“I kept a running list of these names and watched news reports like a hawk hoping they eventually made it safely back to their families,” she said.
“I run for the ones who didn’t make it back home,” she added.
Amanda went on to work at Walter Reed on the limb-salvage team where she learned to think on her feet, be creative and adapt.
“There is no standard operating procedure when you are working with war trauma,” she said.
Amanda kept a caseload of soldiers, sometimes for years at a time.
“I got to know these incredible men and women; see them through marriages, divorce, children being born. I became a safe person for them to share their deepest fears, feelings of failure, and worries for the future.”
“I run for all of the dreams that got side tracked and new paths that had to be forged,” Amanda added.
Amanda’s husband is now retired after 23 years as an infantryman, but he came home from each of his nine deployments with internal and external scars that have change both of their lives forever.
The important thing, she emphasized, is that he came home.
“His military experiences provided us and our children a life that I would never change,” Amanda said.
“I run for him, for my children, and for all of the amazing servicemen and women that are in our lives.”
“I run for those that can no longer run,” she added. “I run for those who no longer want to run because they had to every day for PT. I run because I can.”