Veteran takes on the challenge after airline Dash releases Dream to run Chicago and Boston marathons – NBC Chicago
There was a lot of national headlines this week about flight delays and cancellations for Southwest Airlines, but for a local veteran, that situation shattered his dreams of running in both Chicago and Boston marathons.
Michael Mendoza planned to run in both Chicago and Boston on Monday, and he was excited to take on the challenge of racing two of the world’s greatest races on consecutive days.
“If I tell myself I have it … I’ll knock it out,” he said.
A distinguished and disabled Marine Corps veteran, Mendoza set out to raise awareness and money for other wounded veterans by holding the two races.
Everything started as planned on Sunday when he finished the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. However, when he drove to Midway International Airport, system-wide delays and cancellations left him stranded with Southwest Airlines.
“Suddenly they say it has been canceled,” he said. “I had no idea what was going on.”
Even though Mendoza couldn’t get to Boston, he was still determined to complete his mission and decided to run a one-man marathon on Monday.
“I packed my shoes and gear, walked to the class with my feeding belt and said, ‘see you in a couple of hours,'” he said.
Mendoza did just that by traveling an additional 42.2 miles on Old Plank Road. He says the support he has received from others after all the challenges of the past few days has been a huge boost.
“I love the fact that people have given me encouragement in hindsight,” he said.
Though not coming to Boston, Mendoza raised $ 75,000 for wounded veterans and the Semper Fi America Fund.
Mendoza says he plans to run both marathons next year, as well as other fundraising drives, including an event where he will row 24 hours straight to raise money for cancer awareness and research.