KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The thought of running up a mountainous marathon might sound daunting to some of us, but several local veterans are excited to do it for a good cause.
For the 8th year now, Overland Park Public Works director and 26-year military veteran Tony Hofmann, is preparing to take on the Leadville Trail Marathon in Colorado with a group of runners called Team Leadville.
Hofmann said the tough race requires grit and symbolizes the healing journey for veterans and first responders with post traumatic stress.
The money donated to and raised by Team Leadville goes directly to preventing veteran and first responder suicides.
"These are the same folks that have given back for the public, now it's the public's chance to give back to them and to take care of them and give them a new lease on life," Hofmann said.
That money helps fund Warriors' Ascent, a local nonprofit that empowers veterans and first responders to take ownership of their lives through a holistic and mindful approach.
Executive Director Mike Kenny said the group-style retreats put participants side-by-side with those facing the same struggles.
Over the last six years, he said the retreats have saved and changed more than 500 lives.
"To really be authentically understood by people that have been there and that can share, and say 'Hey, you know I know what you're feeling,'" Kenny said. "Or I have a sense of what you are going through because I too have been there, that is cathartic in its own right."
Kenny said research and data show the nonprofit's success in saving and changing lives. He also hears it right from the participants.
"Invariably you'll hear people state unequivocally 'Hey, this program saved me, this was my last shot,'" Kenny said.
Team Leadville is hoping to reach its $70,000 fundraising goal by the race next weekend.
You can donate by going to the Warriors' Ascent website.