13 for 13 Heroes is a multi-year mission to complete 13 IRONMAN or IRONMAN 70.3 races for each fallen service member who gave the ultimate sacrifice on August 26, 2021 in Kabul, Afghanistan. Each race is held in the closest location to their hometown.
In honor of these incredible and brave heroes, I will be carrying the American flag the full 140.6 or 70.3 miles of the race and bringing it down the red-carpet finish line and presenting it to their families and friends along with the finisher's medal. In my view, all of these heroes deserve the title of IRONMAN or IRONMAN 70.3 finisher.
Along the way, I invite you to support this effort by making a contribution in any amount that will directly support our active duty and veteran service members.
Supporting Causes in Honor of Our Heroes
Through the IRONMAN Foundation, 13 for 13 Heroes is committed to supporting active duty and veteran military causes that have been started or endorsed by the families of the fallen heroes and those wounded in action.
By partnering with The IRONMAN Foundation, we are able to direct contributions to support these and other causes that benefit our service members and reach a huge community of athletes and supporters. Contributions to the IRONMAN Foundation can be matched by thousands of companies with matching gift programs. Through Operation Gold Star, The IRONMAN Foundation has a long history of supporting the ongoing needs of our military in communities across the country where IRONMAN races are held.
Follow the Mission
@13_for_13_Heroes on Instagram
@13for13heroes on Twitter
The 13 for 13 Heroes Story
13 for 13 Heroes started as an idea during 2021 IRONMAN 70.3 Wisconsin on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, shortly after the August 26, 2021 enemy attack in Afghanistan that killed 13 heroic service members and injured dozens more. I was deeply moved by the character, selflessness and sacrifice of the 13 heroes -- and those wounded in action -- and the incredible work our troops did under very difficult circumstances during America’s exit from its longest war. I felt strongly about honoring the wishes of the Gold Star families by ensuring the life, service and sacrifice of these heroes was never forgotten. Though I did not serve, my commitment runs deep, having grown up with a father who served as an Army captain and MASH surgeon in Vietnam. Seeing how that experience affected him -- and the lack of public respect for Vietnam veterans is something I believe we cannot let happen to another generation.
Since this mission began, I have completed 4 races for LCpl. Kareem Nikoui, LCpl. Jared Schmitz, and Cpl. Humberto Sanchez, and Sgt. Nicole Gee. There are 5 races scheduled in 2023 for LCpl. Dylan Merola, SSGT. Taylor Hoover, Cpl. Daegan Page, Corpsman Maxton Soviak, and Cpl. Hunter Lopez.
My very first endurance race was on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 – the Chicago Half Marathon. This connection motivates me today to use my passion for triathlon to give back to veterans and their families.
I am a husband and father from Minneapolis who strongly believes the 13 brave warriors and their wounded brothers and sisters deserve our eternal appreciation and support. I also believe I was called to do this work. At the 2021 race where I came up with the idea, I was randomly given the race number 2650. The first 2 digits = 26, corresponding to the day of the tragic attack. Adding all the numbers together = 13. It’s a powerful reminder that continues to fuel my passion to complete this mission.
I am proud to be part of the community of athletes from around the world race on TEAM IMF to support the mission of the IRONMAN Foundation. Together, we share a passion to create positive tangible change in our race communities and prove that "Anything Is Possible."
About the IRONMAN Foundation
Since 2003, over $55 million has been provided through IRONMAN charitable giveback programs including the IRONMAN Foundation to more than 10,000 local, regional, national and global nonprofit initiatives. Through these partnerships, IRONMAN athletes are powerfully linked to the community and together we leave the IRONMAN legacy behind in our race communities long after race day. We #RaceForMore.
LEARN MORE about the IRONMAN Foundation's giveback around the world.
WATCH the IRONMAN Foundation's service project videos.
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