A Race for Remembrance: Honoring a Grandfather’s Service
If you’re a runner, you know that every race presents its own challenges. For Whitney Anderson, it came during miles 15-18 of the U.S. Coast Guard Marathon, in the form of a persistent headwind that was both physically and mentally challenging. The boost she needed to grit it out and make it through was the memory of her grandfather, a Coast Guard veteran.
Growing up, Whitney loved the time she spent with her grandfather, Lars. Trips to Disney, boating adventures, mini golf, NASCAR, and his competitive spirit remain lasting memories.
But when you ask her to describe him, Whitney speaks to his sense of patriotism demonstrated by his service in the Coast Guard, visits to the American Legion, and deep explanations of the meaning behind Memorial Day and the 4th of July.
While his service was cut short with a medical discharge after two years, the Coast Guard was an integral part of his legacy and ultimately, his appreciation for service shaped Whitney’s perspective.
Whitney experienced that same appreciation for service when she married a Marine and saw, firsthand, the grit and dedication required of America’s military. Whitney and her husband joined Team RWB in 2014 seeking the connection he’d experienced in the military.
In 2022, Whitney’s grandfather passed away. Shortly after, she received an email from Team RWB with a chance to fundraise and secure a bib for the U.S. Coast Guard Marathon. It felt like fate.
The Ironman athlete tackled every mile, no matter what challenges the race threw her way. Near the finish line, Whitney glanced up and saw a bald eagle — the symbol Team RWB’s logo is based on — soaring overhead. She took it as a message from her grandfather. She reminded herself, "Be glad you're here."
She pressed on, running along the water and down the airstrip to the finish line, while raising hundreds of dollars to support America’s veterans in honor of her grandfather’s legacy.
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