Annual event supports returning vets
For the last seven years, Joe “Gusto” Connolly has organized a team for Run Ranger Run to benefit GallantFew, Inc. Patriot Challenge, a national support organization for veterans. “We pledge to walk, run or ride a combined total of 565 miles during February to spotlight the difficulties vets face returning to civilian life,” says the former Army Ranger and COO of Afterburner, a Buckhead-based business consultancy.
To Connolly, it’s personal. He and his Afterburner team— composed of former military personnel—complete the final mile together in honor of his late brother, Army Major David Connolly, who was killed in Afghanistan when his Chinook helicopter crashed in 2005.
“It’s a magical moment when service members come home, but the public has no idea what sacrifices they and their families have made,” says Connolly who acquired the nickname “Gusto” early in his military career for his energy and enthusiasm. “One-third will have some type of disability, and no one can handle it on his or her own. We try to ease the transition by facilitating successful transitions from military service to civilian life.”
Run Ranger Run was founded in 2012 by Cory Smith, who ran 565 miles from Fort Benning to his home in Indianapolis in eight days to spotlight veterans’ issues. Since inception, GallantFew has raised $400,000 and served 7,600 veterans. “Instead of losing momentum over the years, the organization has thrived,” Connolly says.
For more information visit patriotchallenge.org.
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