By Eli Ruiz
WURTSBORO July 15, 2005 A few months back, 57-year-old Mark Hackett of Wurtsboro wasnt much into fitness.
In fact, Hackett himself is the first to admit that he has never in his life participated in anything even remotely athletic.
Granted, Hackett keeps relatively busy. After all he has been a member of the Mamakating First Aid Squad for 15 years, serves on the board of directors of the Sullivan County chapter of Habitat for Humanity, is an active member of the American Red Cross and sells building materials for a living.
So an October marathon would be absolutely out of the question for Hackett. Right?
In October, Hackett will be running in the 30th annual Marine Corps Marathon, in Washington, D.C.
Over the last couple of months Hackett has undergone some drastic changes. Specifically, changes to his physical appearance and changes to his lifestyle.
These alterations all began to take shape a few months ago as Hackett waited for his daughter to finish her guitar lesson and happened to pick up a recent issue of Prevention magazine where he read about an upcoming event.
The event was the upcoming Marine Corps Marathon and the more he read the more interested he became.
Beside the fact that Hacketts 23- year-old son, Brian, who is now a federal corrections officer in Otisville, served in the Marine Corps, he read that participants could actually walk the marathon. But the more he read on, Mark Hackett realized that the rules of this particular race required walkers to be at the 20- mile mark by a specified time. This realization gave Hackett the idea of jogging the marathon rather than walking it.
The final straw for Hackett was when he read that a group called the St. Jude Heroes would also be participating in the event.
The St. Jude Heroes would be raising money for St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee through sponsors.
Hackett then decided that he would have to get in shape for the race.
Through dietary changes, thrice- weekly jogs and a new vitamin regimen, Hackett has managed to shed 22 pounds in the last seven weeks.
Every Tuesday and Thursday, he takes a casual 3.5-mile jog around Wurtsboro. On Saturdays, he pushes himself with much longer runs that increase every week. For example, tomorrows jog will be 11 miles.
Hackett has also begun a weight-lifting regimen that he says has greatly increased his endurance.
Hackett is very excited about the marathon.
Join me in my marathon challenge as I help the children of St Judes fight the marathon battle of their lives, he asks of potential sponsors. I am using the dream of St. Jude founder Danny Thomas that no child should die in the dawn of their lives as my inspiration for the 2005 St. Jude Heroes, and I hope people out there can join me in sponsoring my efforts.
Hackett sees this experience as a no-lose proposition.
Not only does he get to be a part of a wonderful cause, as he puts it, but he has also discovered the benefits of physical fitness, which is clearly evident when he says, fitness will now always be a big part of my life.
For more information about the St. Jude Heroes, or to join the team, log onto the team Web site at www.MarathonGuide.com/SJHeroes or contact Carrie Denning at 1-800-336-3083.
Anyone interested in sponsoring Mark Hacketts efforts may call him at 888-0575 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.