BOZEMAN — Heroes and Horses is planning its first-ever marathon to benefit veterans.
However, it will be done virtually this year due to COVID-19.
“This year we had the idea to do this virtual marathon," said Ciera Krinke, director of marketing and communications. "It was kind of a way for us to do two things: One, bring awareness to the organization and raise funds for the organization, and also to bring people together in a virtual way that creates this feeling of togetherness when it’s a time when we are all feeling so separate.”
Heroes and Horses is a non-profit organization that helps veterans.
“This is a self-discovery course and you’re going to be pushed and you’re going to be challenged," said Navy Seal veteran Micah Fink, the founder and CEO. "When you embrace those challenges, the obstacles you face become the opportunities that you’re looking for in life. We have a real problem in North America, with millions of veterans coming home from a 20-year war. Guys are damaged, they’re broken. Their hope is lost, they’ve been over-prescribed medications, they don’t have jobs, they’re sitting at home and you know the answer that they're looking for -- they have. Our job here is to draw that answer out in an authentic and honest way.”
A veteran’s journey through the program of self discovery is no cake-walk.
“It’s 41-day reintegration program for combat veterans," Fink said. "We’re based here in the Gallatin Valley. It’s the longest and most comprehensive program in North America. The average student rides around 500 miles on their horses. They’ll climb mountains, they’ll go through physical fitness, they’ll spend 28 days in the back country, they’ll go to working ranches."
Those were just some of things they do. Chris Bova experienced the program firsthand and is now the program manager with Heroes and Horses.
“I was in a really low point where I went from leading special operations teams in combat and being responsible in millions of dollars in equipment and human lives to not being able to find a job where people would leave me alone for 10 minutes to actually do the job," said Bova, a Marine veteran. "I was having a difficult time in life kind of transitioning and figuring myself out, and it was really just kind a rude awakening to what I thought was necessary to be successful in life. It really opened my eyes to rediscovering myself and finding that internal grit that I once had that was kind of lost on me at the time.”
If you would like to help Heroes and Horses help veterans, you can sign up to participate in the virtual marathon.
“Early-bird registration opens on July 4, so this Saturday and that will run through the end of July," Krinke said. "It’s $25 to register, after July 24, it will be $35 to register and you can complete this marathon anywhere. You can do it on a treadmill, you can walk around your living room, you can go on a hike and do it. “
You don’t even have to do the marathon all at once or even all by yourself.
"You can complete it all at once -- so 26.2 miles all at once," Krinke said. "The other way is to complete it over three days. Or, you can create a team and you can all pool your mile
You can also donate directly on its website.