Local woman runs for veterans

  • Sheryl Saddler-Twyon will run again this year in the Red Sox Run for Home Base to raise money for veterans who need treatment for issues like depression and PTSD. She stands with Gary Keefe, son of retired Maj. Gen. George Keefe, who died last year. She is running again in George Keefe’s memory. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/5/2019 5:39:42 AM
Modified: 7/5/2019 5:39:31 AM

MONTAGUE — Sometimes a person’s scars are silent and you can’t see them, says Sheryl Saddler-Twyon of Montague, who will run to raise money for veterans who need treatment for issues such as depression, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and more.

The local runner, a 1976 Turners Falls High School graduate, will participate in the Red Sox Run to Home Base event on July 27, and she’s hoping to raise $5,000 for the organization.

“I was never a runner,” Saddler-Twyon said. “I started several years ago. I saw the run advertised during Red Sox games. It starts and ends in Fenway Park. I thought it would be fun and definitely worth it. It is.”

Saddler-Twyon said she started running in the event five years ago. She said a friend from work did it the year before and convinced her to give it a try.

Saddler-Twyon raised $1,000 each year the first and second years she ran, $2,000 the third and $3,300 the fourth. This year, she hopes to increase the amount she raises to $5,000. She has already raised $1,285.

“I am so impressed with this organization,” she said. ” I did it once and saw what a difference it makes, and now I can’t stop.”

The Red Sox Run to Home Base is a 9K run or 2.5-mile walk through Boston, ending by crossing Fenway’s famed home plate. Friends and family can watch participants from the stands. The run honors veterans and helps raise money for Home Base, a Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital program.

One in three veterans return with an invisible wound of war, including PTSD, traumatic brain injury, depression, anxiety, co-occurring substance use disorder or military sexual trauma, according to the organization. These invisible wounds are complex, individualized and extraordinarily challenging for all those affected.

The organization says families of veterans affected often need support as they seek ways to better understand and support their loved ones. Many veterans also struggle with the stigma associated with these injuries and may be reluctant to seek care.

Home Base provides treatment and innovative wellness programs at no cost to the patient. Services such as community and clinical education and research are also provided free of charge.

One hundred percent of the funds raised support the mission of Home Base.

On July 27, Saddler-Twyon’s day will start at Fenway at 7 a.m., where local dignitaries and others will speak, along with at least one veteran or his or her family who have used the program.

Saddler-Twyon said one year, a veteran who used the program spoke to participants, telling them he had looked down the barrel of a gun.

“He said, ‘I know what the barrel of a gun tastes like,’” Saddler-Twyon said as she teared up. “He came through it. But he was that close to not being here.”

She said the program treats the whole family because it knows the trauma doesn’t end with the veteran.

“They treat everyone so veterans can go home and live happy, good, fulfilled lives,” she said. “They can come through the other side, a very dark place in some instances.”

Saddler-Twyon said she plans on participating each year for as long as she can, even if she eventually has to walk, like some others do.

She said her father was a World War II veteran and her oldest brother is also a veteran. She said it’s an honor to help veterans.

“There’s such tremendous energy around this event,” she said. “It will be my pleasure, once again, to run in honor of Maj. Gen. (retired) George Keefe.”

Keefe of Northampton died last year, when he was 79 years old. Saddler-Twyon said he used to come into the bank where she was working and they’d talk.

“He was the grandfather you wanted in your living room,” she said.

Saddler-Twyon said while some of the years she has run have been oppressive, with temperatures in the 80s and high humidity, she thinks about the soldiers in Iraq, for instance, who were fighting daily, carrying their equipment in 130-degree temperatures.

“You really have to keep it all in perspective,” she said.

To learn more about Home Base, visit homebase.org. To learn more or register for the Run to Home Base, visit runtohomebase.org

Saddler-Twyon said several local businesses have donated so far. To donate to her fundraising efforts, visit: bit.ly/2XvMjyN.

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-0261, ext. 269 or afritz@recorder.com.

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