Combat veteran Ryan Vanderweit will run the Boston Marathon to honor those who put themselves on the line to save others.

On April 18, 2016, Ryan Vanderweit will run the Boston Marathon in support of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Emergency Response team, “Ready When Seconds Count.”

Run for MGH - Mass General Marathon Team

For Vanderweit, a strength and conditioning specialist for the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital Home Base Program, supporting first responders is a cause close to his heart – because he is one.

A combat veteran of the United States Army, he was first deployed to Iraq from March 2003 to March 2004 as an infantryman. There, he was part of a unit that aided in the raid on the home of Uday and Qusay Hussein on July 22, 2003. Upon his return to the U.S., his service did not end. From 2006 to 2009, he was a firefighter in the Arizona Army National Guard. Then from 2009 to 2012, he was a firefighter in Rhode Island, where he also became a certified emergency response technician.

Running Boston Marathon as Thanks

Following Mass General’s response to the tragic bombings at the 2013 Boston Marathon, John Hancock continues to provide the 40 bib numbers to support the Emergency Response Marathon team. The funds raised help support training and ensure that the hospital is ready for a disaster of any kind.

“I want to run for everyone who is willing to put themselves on the line to save others.”

“I want to run for everyone who is willing to put themselves on the line to save others,” says Vanderweit. “Often these professions go unthanked and are underappreciated, yet, doctors, nurses, therapists and those behind the scenes show up every day for people they don’t know.”

Today, Vanderweit continues to help others as a member of Home Base, an organization dedicated to healing the invisible wounds of war for post-9/11 service members, veterans and their families. Vanderweit takes a holistic approach to fitness, aiming to improve not only physical strength, but also sleep, hygiene, mental clarity and nutrition knowledge.

He learned about the Emergency Response Marathon team from a fellow employee and says he immediately knew he wanted to be a part of the race, despite not being much of a runner.

Pride in Purpose

“Race day will be terrifying because this is a new experience, but seeing a mission to completion is a part of military training,” says Vanderweit. “That will be replaced though by pride in knowing I’m running for the Emergency Response team and will have family and the city of Boston cheering all along the way.”

Since 1998, John Hancock has provided Mass General’s Marathon Program with the bib numbers necessary to run the race.

Since 1998, John Hancock has provided Mass General’s Marathon Program with the bib numbers necessary to run the race. This has enabled the hospital to raise more than $11 million to support research and child life activities for children with cancer and, for the past two years, nearly $700,000 for the hospital’s emergency preparedness and disaster training.

In addition to the pediatric cancer and first-response teams, 32 individuals who obtained their own bib numbers for the Boston Marathon will run and fundraise for the Miles for Mass General program. It raises funds for hospital programs that are close to their hearts – including cystic fibrosis, pediatric palliative care, Caring for a Cure, the Mass General Cancer Center, the Lurie Center for Autism, and Huntington’s disease research at the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease.

Please support the dedicated runners raising funds for Mass General.

This story first appeared in MGH Hotline.