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Running in the Shelter Island rain for a great cause: Strongpoint Ranch benefit raises record $$

This event continues to amaze me since it was started by two young people, Mitchell Clark and Kelsey McGayhey, who wanted to do something small to support Strongpoint Theinert Ranch back in February 2019.

That first year, just the two of them ran, and they each made a donation to Strongpoint as their entry fee. With this year’s fundraising total of $15,067 (a new record) for last Saturday’s run, the team led by Mitchell and Kelsey has now raised over $50,000 through these grassroots running events.

This race is special because it represents so much of the spirit of Shelter Island; these two young people had an idea and went for it, and now it has grown into one of our more significant fundraisers and community events.

Michael Zack Mundy who has run the previous three years, but decided to modify it to a weighted “ruck march” (carrying a rucksack) for the 2024 event had his Marine Corps training shining through as we discussed the weather prior to the event: “If it ain’t raining, we ain’t training,” he said.

A “ruck march” option — walking with weighted backpack — was added and led this year by Strongpoint Board Member, U.S. Marine Corps veteran, and Legion Commander Michael Zack Mundy, at right. (Credit: Adam Bundy)

The toughness that is imbued in our military is contagious. That mentality motivates all of us through an extremely physically challenging event in what is typically a wet and/or cold day in February or March. The other motivator for many of our runners is furthering the mission of Strongpoint Theinert Ranch to provide therapeutic outdoor retreats to military veterans.

First year runners, from left, Drew Harvey, James Marshall, and Julia Weisenberg finishing the 13.1 race course at Shell Beach after starting at Reel Point. (Credit: Adam Bundy)

Of the 11 runners from Shelter Island, eight of them have experienced the healing power of the ranch in New Mexico on a military veterans retreat, or supporting it as a civilian volunteer. While many people may have shied away from running on Saturday, our team absolutely loved it.

There were many people who came out of their houses to cheer us on, encouragingly honked car horns, and even left out snacks and water along our race course.

All Shelter Island race participants at the finish line at Shell Beach. This year’s event had seven runners, and four “ruckers,” which is a new record for in-person participants. There were runners who completed the event virtually in North Carolina, Florida, and Oklahoma. (Credit: Adam Bundy)

I am extremely grateful to all of our runners, ruckers, photographers, and donors who made this event so successful. The funds raised will be enough to support two of the eight remaining Strongpoint Ranch retreats we have scheduled for 2024.