For Navy SEAL veteran, Bill Foley, running the Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon was more than conquering 13.1 miles – it was a tribute to honor fallen SEALs and their family. For every mile Bill ran, he took pride in knowing that he was doing this for others, raising over $2,500 for The Navy SEAL Foundation.
Bill Foley thought he was going to the VA hospital for an ultrasound. He never expected that trip to put him on a path toward running the eighth-annual Humana Rock ’n’ Roll Dallas Half Marathon.
But, sitting in the hospital, he noticed the bib numbers from past races on the wall.
“The lady who was doing it (the ultrasound), she runs Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon events all the time,” Foley said. “She had several numbers hanging up on her wall, so I asked her about it. I had never run a marathon before, knew nothing about the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon Series.”
The woman encouraged Foley to run in the next race.
“You need to do this,” she said.
He laughed. “I’m too old and worn out,” he replied.
But, after leaving – he had a 1 1/2-hour drive back to work – the 65-year-old Vietnam veteran started thinking. He thought back to when he joined the Navy SEALs. He thought about a funeral he attended for a SEAL who was killed during the war.
“I just started flashing back, remembering that his wife and kids were sitting there,” he said. “I was thinking about how their lives had changed so drastically, how they would never be the same.”
Then he thought about Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens, who was killed in Yemen earlier this year.
Foley made a decision by the end of his drive.
“Wait a minute, it’s time for me to give back,” he said.
He went straight home and registered for the race. He signed up so he could help raise money for The Navy SEAL Foundation, an organization that provides support and assistance to the Naval Special Warfare community and its families.
“It’s a good, strong charity,” he said.
As Foley prepared, his longest training run was seven miles.
“I used to run 20 miles in the service all the time,” he said with a laugh. “I used to run 10 miles every day, but that was 45 years ago.”
On a beautiful March morning, motivated by a good cause and wearing a black T-shirt that read “Never underestimate an old man, who is also a Navy SEAL veteran,” his 13.1-mile journey began.
“When I hit the 7-mile marker on the run, I went, ‘Well, I’ve been this far, what’s the rest of it going to be like?’” Foley said. “When I got to mile marker 10, I took a picture and posted it to Facebook and said, ‘It’s been 45 years since I’ve seen mile marker 10.’”
And, when he finished the race, a smile spread across his face. He hasn’t stopped smiling since.
“I was pretty tickled to even cross the finish line,” he said.
Not only did Foley lose 20 pounds as he prepared for the race, he also raised about $2,500. All of this the byproduct of a serendipitous trip to the hospital for an ultrasound.
“It was a really neat experience,” he said. “I’m kind of just grinning ear-to-ear.”
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