Inspiring veteran reschedules triathlon to Crozet brewery

Kevin Blanchard finishing the race
Kevin Blanchard finishing the race(wvir)
Published: Dec. 11, 2021 at 9:02 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - A canceled race, along with several other obstacles could not stop veteran, Kevin Blanchard. He’s a retired marine who is running, swimming, and biking for a cause.

In 2005 he was hit by a roadside bomb while serving in Iraq and lost part of his leg. 16 year later on a Saturday afternoon, he completed a half Ironman.

“What I’ve always done, I’ve turned sort of trauma and tragedy and hardship into something positive,” Blanchard said. “So same thing I did with this.”

He has been training for the past five months for this race. That included reaching into something uncomfortable and pushing himself to new limits in order to accomplish his goal.

“I never tried to run at all, and stepped outside and went for my first one mile run,” Blanchard said. “It was incredibly difficult, very painful. I had to get new prosthetic gear and like getting new physical therapy. I’ve had to do so much to get to this point.

The race he was scheduled to run was originally supposed to be in Florida. When it was canceled, he moved it to Crozet, finishing at Pro Re Nata. For every draft beer purchased, a dollar goes to Homes for our Troops and the Semper Fi Fund. These are two organizations Blanchard picked out.

“That all fell through six weeks ago,” Blanchard said. “I wasn’t not going to do it. So, I took a bad situation and made it into my own fundraiser.”

Rescheduling the race was hardly the biggest thing Kevin has overcome thus far. His injury in Iraq led to a traumatic brain injury. It’s taken 16 years to learn how to move like he does now, and the most recent months of training taught him more.

“I’ve had like 33 surgeries, I was in a wheelchair for nine months, I was in a hospital for 13 months,” Blanchard said. “Doctor said you never run. He said never do a lot of things.”

Blanchard isn’t one to let an obstacle get in his way. He says he can’t believe he did it. He didn’t just run a marathon, he also swam 1.2 miles and biked 56 miles. He says he was able to do it with the support of his wife and kids, and the Crozet community.

“This is a big sacrifice for me, but it’s also a huge one for my family,” Blanchard said.

Pro Re Nata says it will tally up the total funds raised later this weekend, and they should have the exact amount by Monday.

Copyright 2021 WVIR. All rights reserved.

Do you have a story idea? Send us your news tip here.