Run for three local charities

Published: Monday, July 29, 2013 at 05:06 PM.

South Walton firefighter Danny Margagliano remembers jumping off the tower of a friend’s boat last year in the Destin harbor. He remembers being loaded onto the Coast Guard vessel, unable to move. That is the last thing he remembers before he woke up in a hospital in Atlanta, six weeks later, paralyzed.

I didn’t know Danny then. I donated to the charity set up to help him, Donations 4 Danny, thinking that was all I could do. I never imagined how our lives would cross months later.

One thing’s for sure, organizing a running race is completely different from participating in one. There are a million necessities to worry about: Porta Potties, T-shirts, post-race food, volunteers, runner safety, course markings … the list goes on and on.

Karen Meadows, local USA Track and Field and USAT triathlon coach, was the force behind starting the race, and thus became our race director. Soon, Craig Baranowski, president of Hammer Down Multisport, the region’s premiere triathlon club, joined the effort, with Hammer Down serving as the host for the race.

Our combined experience as athletes made all the difference in organizing the race. The goal was to make this an amazing event that would continue to grow for years to come.

For three months, Danny went through rigorous physical therapy at Shepherd Hospital, working to improve his mobility. It was a strenuous journey, but slowly, he was regaining some range of movement. Going back home was the real challenge. There were constant setbacks. Danny was back at work as a real estate agent, but finances were too tight to afford all the renovations and care he required.

Karen, Craig, and I set a goal of 200 participants for our inaugural event. Surprisingly, we had 500 registered within the first four weeks registration opened.

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