By Connor Beach
An ultra-marathoner’s seven-day, 184-mile trek to raise money and awareness for local veterans kicked off in the Town of Huntington on Saturday.
Fifty-two-year-old Eva Casale kicked off her journey, which is taking her to towns across Long Island, with an opening ceremony at Huntington village’s Elks Lodge.
Beginning Saturday, Casale, of Glen Cove, planned to run seven marathons in seven days to raise awareness for Virginia-based charity Hope for the Warriors, which helps post-Sept. 11 veterans and their family’s transition successfully into civilian life.
On Monday, after her third marathon of the week, Casale said in an interview she has a “unique gift” as a long-distance runner. In 2016, she decided to use her gift to help veterans in need, and she’s been doing it each year since.
“I ran races for Hope for the Warriors before and they really do support our active service men and women and their families transition back into a more normal life,” Casale said.
Over the course of the nearly 60 full marathons that she’s run since 2006, Casale said she made connections with many veteran groups and Gold Star families, so she decided to create a fundraising event dedicated entirely to them.
“I like the format of seven marathons in seven days because each day builds more and more awareness,” Casale said. “Our mission is to honor our veterans, troops and fallen heroes, and this format really helps to do that for a full week.”
After the opening ceremony on Saturday, Casale’s first marathon took her through Huntington, Centerport, Northport, Commack and East Northport, where she ultimately visited the neighborhood of Marine Corps Cpl. Christopher Scherer, who was killed in action in Iraq in 2007.
Her 184-mile journey continued throughout this week, with marathons that took her through Shelter Island, Sag Harbor, Miller Place, Middle Island, Glen Cove, West Babylon, Lindenhurst, Amityville, Bellmore, Merrick and Brookhaven.
Casale said each of the communities she’s visited have been supportive, including areas in Nassau that she’s incorporated for the first time.
She invited community members to join her for the last 5 kilometers of each of her marathons as she visits 66 different “points of honor” for veterans in the various communities.
“This year we are finding that more and more of the donations are coming from people I don’t know, which means we really are building the awareness,” Casale said.
The closing ceremony is set for Friday around 5 p.m. at the Suffolk Federal Credit Union headquarters in Medford. Casale is a Suffolk Federal vice president of information technology.
For more information on each marathon, to track Casale’s current location or to donate, visit Goteameva.org.