Lacie Lowry, News On 6, NewsOn6.com
BARTLESVILLE, Oklahoma -- Former U.S. Marine Lance Corporal William Ely is spending his 4th of July weekend braving the heat - and overcoming injury - to support service men and women back on the front lines.
Ely started the morning collecting care packages with the Blue Star Mothers. The care packages will go to support members of his unit. Then it was off and running under the hot July sun.
"Ever since I heard about some of my friends, close friends, brothers that have been mortally wounded, injured or died, I wanted to do everything I can to prevent them from dying or just give them any kind of motivational support that I can," Ely said.
The 20-mile run is raising donations and supplies for care packages that will be sent overseas.
"If they get several packages because of me doing this, then it's going to help them keep their spirits up and complete this mission, then get home safe," he said.
Ely asked the Blue Star Mothers of Bartlesville to collect the donations.
"Baby wipes, foot powder, sunscreen, beef jerky, energy drinks," said Angel Barrows of the Blue Star Mothers.
This is also a personal milestone for Ely. He suffered back and leg injuries and didn't know if he'd be able to run or even walk again.
He says he chose to run 20 miles because his unit often works Twenty-hour days.
"This is nothing compared to what they are going through, they are getting shot at," Ely said.
He had to stop a few times in the brutal heat, but he finished his run in five hours.
"I am very proud of what he's doing. It's amazing what these young men do and I think it's the least we can do for them," Barrows said.
The Marine was escorted by many veterans and Patriot Guard Riders, finishing up his run in the Ochelata 4th of July parade.
Blue Star Mothers of Bartlesville will be accepting donations for the care packages until Saturday, July 9th. You can donate those items at Tall Grass Motors of Bartlesville, located at 341 NE Washington Boulevard in Bartlesville.
Donations will be accepted Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.