Janesville racers raise money, awareness for homeless vets
JANESVILLE—Joel Galvan sprinted over steep hills in a gallant attempt to beat the miles and the clock.
Under the fresh snow, ice made climbing difficult.
After 39 miles, Galvan's legs cramped. A mile later, he could go no farther.
The ex-Marine had only one choice.
He dropped out of the grueling 64-mile Frozen Otter Ultra Trek almost a year ago.
“It was intense,” 30-year-old Galvan of Janesville recalls.
But he does not give up.
Galvan will try again on Saturday, Jan. 17, to complete the 24-hour footrace through the rough terrain of the northern unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.
He and three colleagues at Rock Valley Community Programs of Janesville are attempting one of the toughest races in the Midwest and maybe the country.
They run to raise money for Rock Valley's Housing 4 Our Vets program.
Galvan, Amy Krebs, T.J. Quade and Nick Brockley believe the words “veteran” and “homeless” should never be used in the same sentence.
They are willing to trek through the night in whatever conditions nature gives them. In past years, racers have struggled with snow up to their knees and temperatures dropping to minus 20.
“I want to prove I can do it for the veterans,” Galvan said. “All I have to do is remember the feeling I had last year when I did not make it.”
Rock Valley's Housing 4 Our Vets program began in 2011 and offers housing and support services to veterans, including case management, job training and placement and group and individual counseling.
Veterans Administration does not fully fund the 48-bed program.
“The dollar amount per veteran is minimal,” Galvan said. “So Rock Valley has to come up with creative fundraisers for programing, gas money and transportation.”
Earlier this year, Galvan and three other runners raised almost $12,000. He hopes to exceed the amount in January but needs community support.
When his colleagues heard about the race, they stepped up.
“I think this is a good way to show Rock Valley's commitment to its veterans by doing something insane,” Krebs said.
She knows no woman has finished the race—yet.
“My goal is not to hurt myself,” said Krebs, who is a mother, student and fulltime employee. “I really like the challenge of the race and couldn't pass it up.”
Many people have no idea how serious the problem of homelessness among veterans is in Rock County, she said. National statistics indicate that one in three homeless men is a veteran.
“If the race raises awareness, then it does its job,” Krebs said.
Quade is not intimidated that many runners stop at the halfway point because of the tough terrain.
“It inspires me to continue training,” the 25-year-old said. “I take the fear and turn it into something positive.”
He is doing long-distance endurance training to prepare.
Brockley, who says he is not athletic, trains both at the gym and outdoors several times a week.
He does it to help the vets.
“They have given their service to their country,” 23-year-old Brockley said. “There's no reason we can't try to give back to them.”
Anna Marie Lux is a columnist for The Gazette. Her columns run Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call her with ideas or comments at 608-755-8264, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.