Over the past two years, a select group of midshipmen have traveled to Minnesota at the beginning of February to compete in the Arrowhead 135 Ultramarathon. The race is 135 miles long on a snowmobile trail starting in International Falls, MN and finishing Fortune Bay Casino, Tower, MN. Competitors are given 60 hours to finish the course. Temperatures range from -10 degrees to -40 degrees each year. The race starts on a Monday, finishes on Wednesday and the midshipmen typically leave the Friday before the race and return Friday of the race week due to driving logistics and ORM safety.
This race serves as a test of character as well as mental and physical fortitude. Additionally, each year, the midshipmen running the race use it as an avenue to raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. The SOWF provides free scholarship grants, financial aid, and educational counseling to the children of Special Operations personnel of all services who have been killed in an operational mission or training. Additionally, the SOWF assists wounded warriors through their in house program by sending them $2,000 checks via overnight mail to help their families get to their bedsides.
In the past two years Midshipmen such as Luke Finney, Steve Link (class of 2010), Garrett Griffin, Blaine Tonking (class of 2011) and John McDonough (class of 2012) have traveled to compete in this race. They have met extraordinary people each year and raise substantial awareness for the SOWF. They even met a Naval Academy graduate, Captain Don Gabrielson who continually sends them letters and emails of encouragement and excitement for the following year’s race. This race has become much more than just a race. Naval personnel, family and friends of these midshipmen have extended the network established in 2009 when Luke Finney and Blaine Tonking first tackled this monstrous race. This year the roster includes Garrett Griffin, Blaine Tonking, John McDonough and newcomer Stephen Honan.
This year's proved a huge success for the midshipmen. A competitive 5th place finish in just over 52 hours earned them the title "finisher." The high was somewhere in the single digits and the low was exactly -42 degrees during the last night of the race, roughly around 4:30 AM Wednesday morning. A huge thank you goes out to those who have already donated, your efforts will truly help other families in ways you could not fathom. Keep spreading the word, especially since we finished the race! So for all those who were holding out to donate until we actually finished, DONATE NOW! This donation page will remain active until the end of March. Thank you all again and God Bless.
The Special Operations Warrior Foundation mission is devoted to providing a college education to every child who has lost a parent while serving in Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps Special Operations during an operational or training mission. The forces covered by the Foundation are some 50,000 military special operations and support personnel stationed in units throughout the United States and overseas bases.
The Warrior Foundation is currently committed to providing scholarship grants, not loans, to more than 760 children. These children survive over 600 Special Operations personnel who gave their lives in patriotic service to their country, including those who died fighting our nation's war against terrorism as part of "Operation Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan and the Philippines as well as "Operation Iraqi Freedom." To date, 143 children of fallen special operations warriors have graduated from college.
The Special Operations Warrior Foundation also provides immediate financial assistance to special operations personnel severely wounded in the global war on terror. Once notified of a special operations soldier, airman, sailor or Marine hospitalized with a severe injury, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation immediately sends funds to the service member (or his/her designated recipient) so the family and loved ones can immediately travel to be bedside.
To date, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation has provided over $700,000 to wounded special operations personnel.