For the spouses of the brave men and women serving overseas, a phone call or video chat is the only way for families to connect and express their support. Two women with husbands serving in the Middle East have thought of a new way to bring their families together by competing in a race with their husbands while they’re away.
American Family Insurance is a new platinum sponsor of the Berbee Derby 5K Thanksgiving Day Run— a race benefiting Technology Education Foundation, which provides grants to nonprofits for technology programs that benefit underserved youth and adults.
Melanie Kleinheinz and Ashley Bergeman run 5K races every year with their husbands and wanted their family to be together. This year, they ignored the thousands of miles between them and found a way to run the Berbee Derby together.
“Our husbands are deployed together,” says Ashley, “And since we’ve always run the race in the past, we thought it would be fun to have our entire family run it this year.” The pair initially thought they’d run the race with the names of their husbands written on their shirts, but it was Melanie who decided to go the extra step.
“We contacted the Berbee Derby and they produced special shirts with our team name on the back to send over to the soldiers,” says Melanie. Along with the shirts, their husbands got a goody bag filled with custom race belts and bibs — the whole package from the Berbee Derby.
After Melanie and Ashley’s husbands received their Berbee Derby swag, other soldiers in their unit became interested and signed up. The two women then took it upon themselves to contact the families of other soldiers and grow the team abroad as well as back home.
“We changed our team name to #DeploymentStrong and now many more soldiers and families will get to be a part of this,” says Ashley. “My husband loves to serve his country and I support him 100 percent. Serving in the military is a sacrifice that my husband, children, and I will continue to do proudly.”
“My husband loves to serve his country and I support him 100 percent. Serving in the military is a sacrifice that my husband, children, and I will continue to do proudly.”
As of now, the number of soldiers involved has grown to more than 30, with more than 80 spouses, family members, and friends running back home.
“There are so many families out there with loved ones deployed,” says Melanie, “and we hope this will bring awareness to what a military family looks like.”
“I think this is more than just a way to cope,” adds Ashley, “This is a way to mentor our children, bring awareness for the cause, and ultimately give back to the community. My goal is to share this story with others.
To show how a local community race can come together to support family members both near and far.”
This is the 14th annual Berbee Derby. American Family Insurance is a new platinum sponsor in 2017.
Since its inception, the Technology Education Foundation has raised over $1,500,000. The race typically draws between 6,000 and 6,500 runners and as many as 140 teams with the goal of the race to close the technology gap — specifically in the STEM areas.