TMP at the 2006 MCM
In October 2005, Kim Neely, Marine Corps Aunt, ran the Marine Corps Marathon. "If my nephew can go to Iraq and back three times, then I can run the Marathon" said Kim. Her motivation for the race was her determination to show her support of the men and women in unifordm deployed to combat zones around the world.
In 2006, 46-year-old Kim Neely was joined by 20-year-old Corporal Neil Schalk, USMC, a purple heart recipient from Wisconsin, and Stephanie Valle, a Marine fiancee, as they ran on behalf of Team Marine Parents™ on October 29, 2006, for the 31st running of the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC. Kim had pledged to raise money for Marine Parents' Care Package Project™ (CPP) outreach program (While the CPP is no longer in operation, it sent more than 40,000 care packages to combat-deployed troops between 2005 and 2015). "When I found out there [were] Marines who [weren't] getting letters or packages, I knew that would be my motivator. I want[ed] to let them know that we support them." Kim, Neil, and Stephanie wound up raising a total of $7,192 for the Care Package Project in 2006!
Corporal Neil Schalk, at the time 20-year-old active duty Marine and Purple Heart recipient, is from the small town of Muscoda, Wisconsin. Neil had run two other Marathons prior to this, but this was his first Marine Corps Marathon.
In August of 2005, Cpl. Schalk was deployed to Iraq as part of a personal security deployment (PSD) for the II MEF. "I was originally a combat engineer, but was on PSD while stationed in Iraq," said Neil, "we escorted the II MEF comanding general and other VIP's around Iraq."
On November 4, 2005, Neil and 13 other Marines were hit by an Improvised Exploding Device (IED) on the way to Ramadi to do a site survey. "It was a typical IED hidden in a spare tire on the side of the road" said Neil. The blast blew a hole through Neil's left hand and he lost two fingers and a portion of his right. Neil has subsequently had several bone and tendon grafts. His left hand is not functional, but Neil says his right hand works just fine without all the parts. Cpl. Schalk remains on active duty with the Marine Corps.
When asked about training, Neil replied "I live in a great place in Wisconsin to train. Very big hills." When asked about his goal to finish the Marine Corps Marathon, he said, "Well under four hours!" When asked about the $22,000 goal for sending care packages to his fellow Marines in Iraq, Neil responded, "These are Marines who aren't getting letters and packages from home. We can raise the money [to get them letters and packages]."
The first photo is of Cpl. Schalk in Iraq, 2005. The second photo is Neil running in the Mad City Marathon (Madison, WI), in May of 2006.
Kim Neely, a Marine Aunt, is from Newnan, Georgia. This was Kim's second Marine Corps Marathon and her goal was to run three marathons in a row because her nephew, Cpl. Derrick Jensen, son of MarineParents.com founder Tracy Della Vecchia, had done three combat tours in Iraq. "If he [could] do three tours of Iraq for us, I [could] run the Marathon three times for the Marines!"
Kim was the member of Team Marine Parents™ who set the goal of raising $22,000 for The Care Package Project™. "People [were] looking for a way to show their support for the troops; this [gave] them the opportunity to do that with a viable and well-run organization."
Kim is a career woman and mother of two adult daughters, Kimberly and Rebecca, who traveled to Washington, D.C. to support her during the marathon. Both daughters attended the race in 2008 and were looking forward to seeing Washington with their cousin, Cpl. Jensen, in 2009.
Stephanie Valle and her Marine fiance Sal have been together for 3 years. They met when Sal was at school in Quantico and she was living in DC. Their wedding date is set for June 16, 2007. Stephanie grew up in upstate New York, but has been living in Washington, DC - Alexandria - since college. When asked why she was running the Marathon this year (her first ever), she repliled "When I met Sal, I knew nothing about the military and especially the Marine Corps. Since meeting him, I realized what absolutely incredible people the Marine Corps is made up of and how much they give up without most of the country ever realizing it. Since meeting more and more of the families (particularly on the MarineParents.com web site), I have never stopped being blown away by how much military families endure and how amazingly strong they are."
This is Sal's second deployment to Iraq with 1/10 Alpha and when they found out he would be leaving again (in the midst of their wedding planning), she decided to run the Marathon. "I knew I would have some nervous time on my hands and it would be a good way to keep busy - and I guess it was that somehow doing the Marine Corps Marathon made me feel closer to him and like I was doing SOMETHING." Sal is definitely her main motivation on those long training runs. She says "I feel like I am running for him and the rest of 1/10." An added bonus: Sal is pretty proud of her too!