We at Talus Media have bounced off of the Social Media trend with a #WCW (Woman Crush Wednesday) Series of our own. Our goal is to highlight SHE-roes in the field who strive for success and community outreach!
In honor of Memorial Day, we are featuring Blithen Davis, PT, MSPT and Liz Chausee, PT, DPT, both from Emerson Hospital in Concord, MA who participated in the 3rd annual RUCK4HIT Race in Cape Cod the first weekend of May, the first race being in 2016 from Ground Zero to the Cape. This is a 220+ mile relay style race for 15 teams of 7 alternating runners and 2 drivers that starts at 12:30 am and moves through all 15 towns on the Cape (starts in Bourne down to Provincetown and ends back up in Mashpee) all while carrying a 20-30 pound ruck sack. The goal of the race is to raise awareness and fund Heroes in Transition, Inc. which provides home modifications, transitional support groups, financial support, and assistance dogs for our beloved veterans and their families. HIT was founded in 2009 in loving memory of Capt. Eric A. Jones, a Marine Helicopter Pilot, who lost his life in combat mission in Afghanistan. His mother, Cyndy Jones, started the program and it carries on Eric’s mission by providing assistance, especially for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom conflicts. The ruck sack is a “symbol of carrying the burden of war during active service and after”. From this year’s race alone, $118k and counting has been raised for HIT.
Blithen (BD) has been a clinician for 13 years and with Emerson Hospital for 10 years. She works in the outpatient segment primarily with concussion patients, but specializes in spine, vestibular and pregnancy-related conditions. Last year, a former professor from Northeastern Universty, Alycia Markowski, reached out to Blithen and co-worker Josh Avery about volunteering their time as Physical Therapists along the course to support the runners. She provided services such as: stretching, active release techniques, soft tissue massage, mobilization, kinesiotaping, and first aid for treating dehydration, ruck rash, and blisters.
Liz (LC) has been at Emerson Hospital for 2 years and currently specializes in treatment of Parkinson’s and pediatric hypersensitivity with her caseload split 50/50 for orthopedic and neurologic patients. Liz was recruited as a runner by Josh as well given her passion it. Liz ran ~30 miles for the race and was provided the nickname “Scooter” – keep reading to see why!
Here are their stories.
Why did you get involved with RUCK4HIT
- BD: My husband Karl served in the Air Force for 4 years and while luckily he did not have to be deployed, a lot of his friends did and I think as a country we need to do better by our veterans when they come home. It’s the least we can do for the men and women who protect our freedom. That being said, it clearly took no convincing to get me to agree to volunteer and help with the RUCK4HIT. Volunteering as a PT along the race was a little crazy that first year. Picture this… the weather was horrendous, torrential downpours, high winds, flooding while trying to treat runners in the middle of the night with only a head lamp for light under a makeshift tent that had to be held down by cinderblocks and secured to the bed of a truck so it wouldn’t blow away. Even with the horrible conditions, I can say it was one of the best experiences of my life. I’ve never felt more appreciated or been thanked for my skills as a PT more than I did during this event. The entire day was so inspiring that we decided to form a team this year and commit ourselves to raising money and bringing awareness to the services offered by HIT and the impact they make for our veterans and their families every day.
What kept you moving along during the race?
- LC: The cause and saying “we ruck for those who can’t” stuck in the back of my head for the majority of the race. Beyond that, my team really helped keep me going. We had such an amazing and supportive group I wanted to run fast for them as well.
How do you feel the program has made a difference?
- BD: By providing assistance to heroes and their families. A portion from this years proceeds were awarded to the Yarmouth Police Department for a new dog in honor of Sgt. Sean Gannon, killed on April 12 in the line of duty.
- LC: The organization is giving and providing to those in our community who have given the most out of all of us. By raising awareness and money for this organization, the men, women and their families who have sacrificed their lives to serve and protect us can be offered the support they need and deserve.
Do you have a favorite Ruck4HIT story?
- LC: It was early on Saturday, I was completing my 9th out of 10 legs. I ended up running my fastest pace and past another runner along the way. My van was driving by at the time and saw it happen; all I could hear were cheers, which motivated me to continue to run faster. They were all really excited and supportive when I finished, it was a great moment of accomplishment.
How do you feel being a PT has made an impact on your experience here and with veterans?
- BD: Being a PT and being able to not only have the opportunity to help with this organization but also be able to provide the men and women who participate in the RUCK4HIT with help along the way so they can finish the race is an amazing opportunity.
- LC: Especially going into the race technically injured, being a PT while doing this allowed me to have a greater appreciation for our profession, our skill set and knowledge of injury prevention.
Who is your #WomanCrushWednesday or #ManCandyMonday, aka your inspiration?
- BD: Honestly I was inspired by my whole team this year. Every single one of them really gave it their all and crushed it. If I had to pick one person for my #WCW it would be Liz Chausee, my teammate, fellow physical therapist and friend. Going into this event for 3 weeks before she was injured from a previous half marathon to the point that she was limping around the clinic. She worked hard to get to the point where she thought she’d be able to run the race but was still unsure if she’d be able to finish. First leg she ran she was so fast at the end we saw her headlamp coming and thought it was a scooter or a motorcycle because no one could run that fast with a 20 lb ruck sack on their back earning her the nickname “Scooter”. She had a moment half way through the race where she was hurting and feeling like she couldn’t keep going. After a little pep talk and some physical therapy ( it does help to have a team that has 6 PTs on it), she was back on track. After running 27 miles, she ran 8:40 miles on her 9th leg and totally killed it.
- LC: My #WCW is Blithen. She is such a strong, empowering person who encouraged and helped me both mentally and physically (with multiple PT treatments for my hips and back) throughout the entire race. She picked me up and helped me through my lowest points and supported me every step of the way. She not only did this during the race, but she does it in my everyday life. I don’t know where I’d be without her support, care, friendship, advice and kick in the but when I need it.
We want to thank Blithen, Liz, and their whole team “Ruckhabilitation” from Emerson Hospital for their bad-a** involvement in this event and their service for those who graciously served.
“Who do we ruck for?”
“For those who can’t”
Check out social media platforms @talusmedia for future #WCWs. If you would like to submit your SHE-roe, DM us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook!