HOLDEN, Mass. — On Sunday May 20, Holden resident Kathleen Downey will be one of some 3,000 runners to cross home base at Fenway Park to support wounded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
As part of the The 3rd Annual Run Walk to Home Base Presented by New Balance, Downey has pledged to raise $1,000 for the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base program, which provides clinical care and support services for veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injuries.
"And it's not just for veterans, but for the veterans and their families — so their spouses, their children, and whoever needs counseling or assistance when they come back," said Downey.
Last year, the event raised $2.6 million dollars for the Home Base Program, which focuses on providing clinical care and support services for veterans with deployment-related stress and Traumatic Brain Injury; support services and counseling for families of veterans; community education programs and research to better treat the "invisible wounds" of war.
"90 percent of these funds stay in the foundation," said Downey. "The Red Sox Foundation and Mass General do a really great job of using the money effectively to keep overhead and administration costs low so the money goes directly to treating veterans."
According to the 2008 Rand Corporation study, "The invisible Wounds of War," of the 1.64 million service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, nearly one in five suffers from combat stress disorders. Additionally, as many as 20 percent of returning vets experienced concussions or other traumatic brain injury during their tours.
In addition to it being a great cause, Downey is also excited about the experience of being at Fenway during its 100th anniversary season.
The course begins and ends at Fenway, winding 5.6 miles through the streets of Boston before coming back for a photo finish on the field.
"It's one of those lifetime experiences that you have to do, because the finish line is on the warning track in front of the Green Monster, and you can run across home plate as well," said Downey.
Around 3000 runners and walkers are also expected to participate, including 500 active-duty military members.
"It's my way of giving back," said Downey. "The tagline for the race is 'They served us, now it's time we serve them,' and I think that's what it all stands for."
Already 60 percent of the way to her goal of $1000, Downey hopes to raise as much as she can over her pledge in the next two weeks.
To help support this cause, residents and businesses can make a donation of $10 or more by visiting www.runtohomebase.org/runtohomebase/KathleenDowney.
For those wary of donating online, a donation form is also available at runtohomebase.org.
The Red Sox Foundation is an IRS approved 501c3 nonprofit charity and all the donations are tax deductible.