For this month’s Celebrating Volunteers, WBOY heads north to Morgantown to honor a man who makes it his mission to help veterans.
Meet Jamie Summerlin, who took his passion for running and turned it into a community event and a way to raise money for Operation Welcome Home.
“As a West Virginia veteran, I wanted to do everything I could to support and raise awareness for our West Virginia vets,” said Summerlin. “As I learned about the organization as it was starting to come together, I wanted to do everything I could to support it.”
That support included Summerlin literally running across America nearly four years ago raising $50,000 for Operation Welcome Home.
“I then became more involved in Operation Welcome Home and really becoming a spokesman,” said Summerlin. “Was honored to be asked to be the president of the board of directors at the time.”
The organization works to provide jobs to veterans.
“Working with these veterans, getting them focused on you know, resumes and interviews,” said Summerlin. “Really helping them move forward when they return so they can succeed.”
Then Jamie formed an idea that combined his passion for running with his love of military service: the Inaugural Morgantown Marathon.
“Not only were we going to put on a great event to showcase Morgantown, to showcase West Virginia for all those who were coming in to run it, but at the end of the day it was going to support our heroes,” said Summerlin.
On Sept. 21 of last year, over 1,200 runners from 36 states and six countries descended on Morgantown to run in the race.
“We were able to make a donation to Operation Welcome Home of 65,000 from that one event,” said Summerlin.
Jamie credits the success to support from the community and 500 volunteers
“We provided people who ran the 8K, the half marathon, or the Tour Morgantown Marathon an opportunity to celebrate together,” said Summerlin. “While it was overwhelming the rewards were so much greater.”
Registration is already open for runners for the 2016 marathon.
“When you volunteer and it’s something that you’re passionate about and you can wake up every morning and feel good about doing it and at the end of the day, put your head down knowing that you made a difference,” said Summerlin.