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Local woman to run in support of veterans

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For the second year in a row, Michele Myers is running the TCS New York City Marathon. And for the second year in a row, she’s competing in the race soon after healing from an injury. Rather than calling it quits, she’s determined to run on Nov. 3, because she believes strongly in the cause of United Way’s Team Mission United, an organization that provides services for veterans on Long Island.

“I did this last year as a challenge to myself – not for the challenge of the race, but the challenge of fundraising,” Myers said. “It’s a really good cause. I didn’t care as much about completing the marathon, but my intention was to raise money and meet the fundraising goal.”

Myers, 32, is an insurance agent who has worked at her family’s insurance business, Jay R. Myers & Co., Inc., on N. Village Ave. in Rockville Centre for the past 12 years. Every year, she said the Long Island Insurance Community partners with United Way and holds a gala. She was at a function in 2017 held to celebrate the Mission United runners prior to the marathon and said they discussed how they were struggling to reach their fundraising goals. Until then, she had never considered running a marathon for a charity like this.

“I thought it sounded amazing and something I would love to be a part of,” she said. “So I made some calls and signed on for the next year.”

An active person and moderate runner, Myers, who now lives in Oceanside, signed on for her first marathon, dedicated to raising money and not worrying about the physical part. Last year, she raised more than $11,000 for Mission United, a program of United Way of Long Island that supports U.S. military veterans and their families by helping them adjust to civilian life after service. It provides funding for services and resources in job training, counseling and emergency financial aid for more than 100,000 veterans and military families on Long Island. Its signature program, Vets Build, helps put struggling veterans on a career path.

“Veterans come home with a lot of skills but some of them are hard to translate into jobs at home,” said Susan Dunbar, marketing and communications manager of United Way of Long Island. “We help provide job training in the green energy construction field to help them build financial independence.”

Myers said this aspect of the program is what helped motivate her. Unfortunately, she suffered a setback, shattering her ankle in April 2018. She eventually healed and was cleared for the race. She said it was the organization’s mission that kept her going.

“I felt I owed it to everyone who donated and I didn’t want to let anyone down,” Myers said. Looking at the bigger picture, she said it didn’t feel right to complain about her ankle. “What these men and women have done for our country is so much bigger.”

Last year, she said running the race became about persevering due to her injury. This year, she said she wanted to see how she could do if she gave it 100 percent. However, because she ran last year so soon after the injury, she created more problems for herself. She ended up hurting her foot and had surgery on her right foot in April; after it healed, she was hiking and broke her left ankle in late July. Still, she remains optimistic and follows a training routine of core training, body weight exercises, interval training and cycling, taking a long run on weekends. She stressed that the core exercises are important for building and maintaining proper form, and the other necessary thing is stay active.

“I have friends who are active so we go hiking together,” Myers said. “I try to build exercise into my life and not make it a chore.”

Myers also solicits donations from these friends and said she’s lucky to have people in her life who believe in the cause as much as she does. “We need to support the men and women in this community who have had the courage to serve this country…there’s so little we can do, but this is one way to help. And I find that people don’t say no.”

Actually, she added, she gives them an ultimatum: either run a marathon or write a check.

“They always write a check,” she said.

As of press time, Myers had raised $1,645. The team as a whole, which consists of six other runners, has raised $7,920, with a goal of $25,000. Visit www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/teammissionunited to donate.

For many people, competing in a marathon is about achieving a personal physical goal. For Myers, the focus is on the mission.

“I see it as a fundraiser I happen to be running for,” Myers said.