Holy Cross Navy ROTC Midshipmen Raise $15,000 to Support Wounded Veterans in 40th Marine Corps Marathon

On Oct. 25, 15 members of the College of the Holy Cross’ Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps unit ran in the 40th annual Marine Corps Marathon, a 26.2 mile race that took place in Washington, D.C. Twelve of the midshipmen were Holy Cross students and three were Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) students. The unit also includes students attending Worcester State University. The midshipman raised more than $15,000 for the Semper Fi Fund in support of wounded veterans.

The group’s fundraising efforts were ranked as the No.1 ROTC fundraiser in the country and the sixth largest fundraiser overall. All of the midshipmen completed the marathon and for many, it was their first time running. One standout included, Liam Rial ’18, who completed the race in 3 hours and 13 minutes. Capt. Vernon Kemper, U.S. Navy, of the Navy ROTC unit said that the midshipmen went “above and beyond their duties.” Capt. Jeff Hart, U.S. Marine Corps, added, “It was inspiring to see such a motivated group go down to our nation’s capital for such a worthy cause. We are extremely proud of our unit and their efforts.”

Evan Farrell ’16 was the midshipman in charge of the marathon for the unit. After gauging interest from the battalion in February, Farrell went on to organize the event, and fundraising efforts grew fiercely over the summer. Farrell said it was the greatest honor when their outstanding efforts were recognized at the charity dinner the night before the marathon was held. “We heard very moving stories on how the Semper Fi Fund helped veterans cope with traumatic, life-altering injuries. The feeling of appreciation and thanks was overwhelming and undoubtedly motivated all 15 of us to run our best the next day. It was truly a wonderful experience,” Farrell said.

“Running through our nation’s capital was awesome,” Rial added, “but it was even better because it was for a great cause. It really hit home when we got down to D.C. and saw some of the wounded veterans that our fundraising was benefitting.” Rial recounted the moving experience of running the last mile that had been lined with photos of those killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan. “That’s what really made me push through to the end,” Rial said. “I realized what they sacrificed and how hard they fought and knew that what I was feeling was nothing compared to what they endured.”

Founded in 1941, the College’s Navy ROTC unit is one of the oldest in the nation. Distinguished officers associated with the unit include John W. Middendorf II ’45, U.S. Navy, Secretary of the Navy from 1974-77. Middendorf was a founder of the Marine Corps Marathon and was recently honored for his distinguished service with the U.S. Navy Memorial’s Lone Sailor Award. The O’Callahan Society supports the viability of Navy ROTC at the College in honor of Rev. Joseph T. O’Callahan, S.J., a professor of math and physics at the College and officer of the U.S. Navy who was the first chaplain to receive the Medal of Honor.