Fifth Annual “185 For Heroes” Run Traverses the Entire C&O Canal September 14-20

Hagerstown, MD (September 10, 2014) During seven days in September two active-duty Army soldiers, along with a support team of two bicyclists, will run the full length of the Chesapeake & Ohio National Historical Park towpath to raise funds and public awareness for our nation’s wounded veterans through Operation Second Chance (OSC). This 185-mile run is the equivalent of running a full marathon a day for a full week. The run, which takes place September 14-21, begins at the Cumberland Visitors Center and finishes on Copley Lawn at Georgetown University with a great celebration.

185 For Heroes is the brainchild of siblings Ashley Ackenhausen and Clay Anderson.  As they looked for an endurance challenge they could do together that would push their own personal limits, they came upon the idea of traversing the C&O Canal. Being active duty U.S. Navy it didn’t take long for the two to realize they wanted to make this a charity event that would benefit their brothers- and sisters-in-arms and their families.

Each year the organization chooses seven servicemen and women to honor; one for each day of the run. One hundred percent of all donations from the 185 For Heroes event go directly to Operation Second Chance, the Frederick, MD based non-profit whose mission is “to serve wounded, injured and ill combat veterans.”

“Clay and I didn’t imagine that our one-time run could turn into an annual event that has grown bigger and bigger each year,” said co-founder Ashley Ackenhausen. “We are incredibly thankful to be able to pay tribute to those who fight bravely with everything to lose so we don’t lose the freedoms we cherish.” 

At all times during the event the public is encouraged to cheer on the runners at any of a number of high profile C&O Canal junctions, such at the Cushwa Basin in Williamsport, MD on Day Four. Times when the team will be approaching various locations or hosting “meet & greet” dinners open to the public can be tracked on the organization’s website, A GPS Tracker will be activated on the website on Day One.

While the organization would appreciate as much support on the trail as possible, there are plenty of other ways to support their important cause. “With the ultimate goal to raise funds and awareness for wounded veterans, we’re asking people to go online to donate and help spread the word,” said Dave Baran, vice president of events for 185 For Heroes. “We have a fundraising program where individuals can even form their own “virtual team” and run the collective 185 miles amongst a group wherever they are in the country.”

The team will be entering Washington County on Day Three and leaving on Day Four. Dan Spedden, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau noted that a number of CVB members are sponsoring this year’s run. “There will be a wonderful opportunity on the evening of September 14 to meet the team at Weaver’s Restaurant and Bakery in Hancock at around 6:30 p.m.,” said Spedden. The 1828 Trail Inn is donating two night’s lodging in Hancock, as well. In Williamsport, the group will be enjoying a discounted stay at the CandleLight Inn. “Wednesday could get off to an exciting start if our local biking and running enthusiasts, or anyone who supports those who serve our country, would be at the Cushwa Basin early in the morning to cheer the runners on as they start Day Four, which may be at about 8:00 a.m.,” said Spedden.

185 For Heroes Sponsorship Director, Casey Daniel, who was a cyclist for the 2013 event, will accompany the team with transportation and logistical support. He will be available to local media at times when the runners are on the towpath. Journalists wishing to meet directly with Mr. Daniel may call his cell number—(703) 217-7151.

Personal statements from this year’s runners and honoree information:

Paul Koczera, Runner-
Paul Koczera, a resident of West Virginia, is a student of Recreation & Leisure Studies, an avid trail runner, & posture freak.

Paul enlisted with the USAF in 2008. Throughout Basic Military Training, Paul held the highest level of responsibility as Flight Dorm Chief. Following graduation of BMT he volunteered to try out for Combat Control operations in the USAF Joint Forces Squadron. After excelling in the training pipeline for seven months; enduring extreme physical demands and mastering the technical skill of controlling air traffic, Paul suffered an acute episode of Chiari Malformation Type 1. The congenital disorder, underlying and unknown to Paul or USAF screening processes, had triggered itself due to the stresses of Combat Control training. Though Paul was not able to continue training and received an Honorable Discharge, he considers that year of time to be one of the most influential experiences in his life. He says the Combat Controllers he trained under were the epitome of teamwork, and remembering their examples of cooperation and discipline under stress will stick with him forever. Paul would like to give back to this elite program by honoring their fallen and wounded Heroes.

One of mantras of the Combat Control brotherhood is “adapt and overcome,” and Paul plans to just that with 185 miles of running. Paul has had several years of barefoot running experience and training and has participated in several races before including the Lose Your Shirt and Shoes 5k in 2012, the Freedom’s Run Marathon in 2012, and the Freedom USA’s 101 mile Military Bowl Run (where he completed 30 miles of the race).

Paul’s parents moved into the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia in 1989. He considers Jefferson County, WV, home, and cherishes the childhood memories of growing up in this area. He shares these memories with his two brothers and two sisters: Peter, Danielle, Patrick, & Keryn (Paul is the second oldest of kin). Paul considers his parents to be the most influential role models in his life, and says he’ll always hold the highest thanks for them in his heart. Paul also cherishes his relationship with his fiancée Jenna, and looks forward to their exciting 2014.

Jeremy Rausa, Runner-
I was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. After graduating from high school in Wasilla, Alaska, I joined the Army in order to see the world. My original intent was to get what I could out of my four years of service and then move on, yet here I am almost 20 years later. The military has blessed me with a rewarding job, paid education, and many memories. Although no longer married, I have a wonderful 7- year-old daughter whom shares my enthusiasm for running, swimming, and biking.

I spent high school running cross-country and track, which made the jump into military running easier. However, although I have been running for years, I didn’t really gain a passion for it until I arrived in the Washington D.C. area. I was challenged to run the Marine Corp Marathon by a good friend. Eight marathons and four ultras later, I still have the same zeal for it. Running has enabled me to see the DMV area and surrounding regions, and I have gained many friendships through my current running group, the Hardcore Oats.

I have donated to charities in some form or another, but I have never fully dedicated myself to a cause until David Brown and Michael Rychlik talked about running for 185 for Heroes and described the joy of running for something bigger than them. I am honored to run this year for all my fellow Service members whom have already given so much.

Veteran Honorees this year:
Armando Ybarra, US Marine Corps, Sergeant, retired - 7 years of service
Eric Moriarty, US Army, Sergeant First Class, retired - 12 years of service
Dennet Oregon, US Army, Staff Sergeant, retired - 11.5 years of service
Rex Tharp, US Army, Sergeant, retired - 4 years of service

The final day on the trail is dedicated to all veterans who have died in combat.