Jack Anderson wrote an article in a March 1979 issue of Parade Magazine shortly after I was born about why my grandfather William James “Sak” Tsakanikas should win the Medal of Honor. I never had the chance to meet my grandfather as he passed away a few months before I was born.
“Sak” was 19 when he was a PFC in the Battle of the Bulge where he was shot in the face multiple times on Lanzerath Ridge. My grandfather spent most of his life as a veteran campaigning for veterans’ rights as he went on to run at UPENN, study at Cornell, and get his law degree IN Texas. “Sak” and my Grandmother, herself a Captain in the Army, moved around alot as veterans and understood the struggles veterans face assimilating into communities.
When Liza Howard, Joe Prusaitis, Jason & Allison Bryant, and Mike Erwin contacted me last summer about helping with a Trail Running Camp on the Neuces River in rural West Texas at a site where I had won two USATF Silver Medals at the 2011 & 2012 50 Mile Trail National Championships, I immediately agreed to the weekend!
The weekend in Texas with Team RWB members and veterans was life changing. Getting the chance to meet Team RWB founder and chairman Mike Erwin (pictured with me below presenting me the Team RWB coin) in person was awesome! “Boom” Mike’s excitement for the organization he founded, that has an aim to help veterans returning from service to integrate into society on a healthy social level, was contagious! Here is a short link to a you tube video that shows what we did at the camp: 2012 Team RWB Trail Running Camp. Mike, Liza, Joe, Jason, & Allsion have already booked the camp for 2013’s Veteran’s Day weekend. Registration is open for anyone regardless of their experience level or status as a veteran or civilian. The lineup scheduled to help volunteer at the camp this November includes an all star line up of America’s best trail and ultra marathon runners:
Mike Erwin invited me up to tour the United States Military Academy at West Point and Run with Team RWB’s local chapter on Friday March 22nd. It was an amazing day where I had the chance to meet so many great cadets, officers, and Team RWB supporters! Major John Faunce arranged for me to sit in and join some cadets in the giant Mess Hall! The group run was amazing and I was honored to be asked to carry “Old Glory” the entire 5 miles! I know my grandparents would be proud that I have found a group like Team RWB to work with and that through my running I can work to help America’s vets!
Help a veteran!