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Michael Ferrara, a 17-year-old teen will run in the virtual Marine Corps marathon to support homeless veterans across the country

A teenager from Hunterdon County is willing to go the distance for our nation’s veterans — and it’s not a short task.

Michael Ferrara, a 17-year-old resident of Ringoes, has launched an online fundraiser to support his run in the virtual Marine Corps Marathon, scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 25. All funds will be donated to the Houses for Warriors, a nonprofit organization that houses and improves the quality of life for disabled veterans.

While the marathon was originally scheduled to be held in Arlington, Virginia, it has switched to a virtual format in light of the coronavirus pandemic. This means Ferrara will track his time, pace and distance using a digital watch and send a screenshot of his results to the website of the Marine Corps Marathon.

This weekend, Ferrara will run the 26.2 miles from Sandy Hook to Spring Lake alongside Team RWB (Red, White and Blue).

“Team RWB is a running team that supports the veterans," Ferrara said. “They try to make sure to get the name out that the veterans really are out there to support us, to support the country ... and when they run they carry flags to show their patriotism.”

As of Monday, Ferrara had raised more than $3,500 for Houses for Warriors. These funds will help the organization foot the bill for converting an 86,000-square-foot facility in Denver into a transitional housing and vocational training facility for homeless veterans.

Should the project move forward, Houses for Warriors will build a memorial outside of the facility using bricks on which the names of the development’s founding members will be engraved.

Ferrara is hoping to raise at least $4,000 so his own name and those of three veterans that are particularly close to him can adorn the memorial.

“If we hit my current goal of $4,000, I’m going to dedicate three of the four bricks to two of my grandparents and my uncle,” Ferrara said. “My uncle was in the Marines, my one grandfather on my dad’s side was in the Navy, and my other grandfather on my mom’s side is in the Army.”

Ferrara’s fundraising efforts have been so impressive that Houses for Warriors began a #fundraisinghero monthly initiative to shine a light on his contributions and encourage others to take action.

“If I had 100 more people like Michael today, we would have that building tomorrow,” Andrew Canales, an Iraq War veteran and the CEO of Houses for Warriors, said.

Canales said veterans are fives times more likely to commit suicide if they’re homeless.

“That’s only for (35% of) the veterans that exist. We actually can’t account for the other half that aren’t in the VA health care system," Canales said.

Ferrara said his deeply felt patriotism inspired him to raise money for Houses for Warriors.

“The reason that I’m able to run and the reason that people are able to do what they do everyday is because of the veterans. And it’s not fair to the veterans that they end up in the situation that they’re in — ending up homeless," the teen said.

(10/21/2020) Views: 1,331 ⚡AMP
by Caroline fassett
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Marine Corps Marathon

Marine Corps Marathon

Recognized for impeccable organization on a scenic course managed by the US Marines in Arlington, VA and the nation's capital, the Marine Corps Marathon is one of the largest marathons in the US and the world. Known as 'the best marathon for beginners,' the MCM is largest marathon in the world that doesn't offer prize money, earning its nickname, “The...

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