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Race organizer still dreaming up ways to support military

Published: 11:58AM September 12th, 2013

Leslie Mayne gives a new meaning to the acronym PTSD.

Her nonprofit Permission To Start Dreaming Foundation is the product of a tragedy Mayne suffered in 2009 when she lost her son, Pfc. Kyle Farr. The Soldier suffered from post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury after he returned home from a deployment to Iraq in 2006.

From her pain, Mayne offers hope to others suffering from and affected by PTSD with the third annual Race for a Soldier Half-Marathon in Gig Harbor Sept. 29. The race benefits organizations that support service members’ well-being, like All American Dogs, Rainier Therapeutic Riding, Heartbeat Serving Wounded Warriors and USO Northwest.

“We’re just one of many programs trying to do a small thing,” Mayne said. “I do believe that this has the potential to have quite an impact. At some deep level we all want to be a part of something greater than ourselves. I see it as giving a community an opportunity to do that.”

Since the race’s inception in 2011, Race for a Soldier and Mayne’s message of hope continues to grow. This year’s race starts at 8 a.m. outside the Gig Harbor YMCA. There is also a two-mile option and kids fun run.

Weekend events also include the annual prayer breakfast Sept. 27 at 7 a.m. at the Hope Center in Gig Harbor, where two Marines and an Army chaplain will share their own personal stories of PTSD and why they “race for a Soldier.”

New this year is the Swing for a Soldier golf tournament at Eagles Pride Golf Course Sept. 27 at 12:30 p.m. to cater to those who may not run, but still want to contribute to the cause.

The Permission to Start Dreaming Foundation has been overwhelmed with support, not just with monetary contributions but also of people who want to be part of it.

Last year about 1,500 runners participated in the 13.1-mile race and Mayne expects 2,000 later this month with more than 450 volunteers to assist.

Mayne has received more than $4,000 to sponsor Soldiers to run this year’s race.

“There are communities out there who want to help our Soldiers and this is a wonderful way to respond,” Mayne said. “I feel absolutely privileged that this is what I get to do in life.”

This year’s half-marathon has a few changes including a route change to eliminate a daunting steep hill. Starting this year a different military branch will be honored at each race. This year the race shirts will be red in honor of the United States Marine Corps.

Scott Langlow, the foundation’s secretary/treasurer, coordinated the 144-person field golf tournament as part of the race weekend events.

Soon Race for a Soldier might branch out of Gig Harbor. While still maintaining the race in Washington, Mayne and her team plan to make an assessment this year if they will branch out next year in Colorado Springs, Colo.

This year’s prayer breakfast will take place in the same venue as the last two breakfasts, but Mayne envisions a larger venue next year. She has her sights set on a Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter, recent Medal of Honor recipient, to attend next year as the keynote speaker. Carter doesn’t know it, but he has a tie to Mayne’s family.

The Soldier Carter valiantly tried to save, Spc. Stephan Mace, was a friend of Mayne’s youngest son. Mayne’s older son died in March of 2009 and Mace was killed in October of the same year. Mayne hopes Carter will speak at next year’s breakfast with Mace’s mom in the audience.

“We’re dreaming big,” she said. “I see the impact we’ve made in just a short time. I truly believe we can reach a greater amount of Soldiers.”

For information about the Permission To Start Dreaming Foundation or to register for the race visit raceforasoldier.org.