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Westchester - Rockland Journal News Article: Curran Helps Those Still Serving

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Written by Pat Curran

Posted on 17 January 2018

Last Updated 17 January 2018

Westchester-Rockland Journal News

July 11, 2010

Written By:  Sam Borden

Valley Cottage resident Pat Curran, center, took part in the Lake Sebago Sprint Triathlon last August with West Point classmates Major Dwight Phillips, left, and Major Mark Taylor.  Curran will compete in the Nautica New York City Triathlon on July 18th.

 


It was the 18th mile of the 2008 Marine Corps Marathon, and Pat Curran was dragging.

His hamstrings throbbed. His stomach ached. His heart pounded. His eyes rolled. With eight miles still left in the race, Curran wasn't sure he would be able to finish.

Then he saw his girls. His wife, Gina, and his daughters, Elizabeth and Lauren, were standing at the race barriers holding signs. One of them said "Super Daddy," a nod to Curran's affinity for Superman (he occasionally wears Superman T-shirts when he trains), and when Curran came up to them, his daughters — 3 and 4 years old at the time — looked up at him.

"Daddy, never quit, right?" they said. "Never quit?"

Curran nodded and smiled through the tears in his eyes. Then he went on and finished the final eight miles, running some, walking some but making it across the line and climbing up the Iwo Jima Memorial monument, where he received his medal.

Looking back on it, Curran believes that day — that race — was a prime impetus in his decision to start Freedom's Light, a website designed to highlight several charities that support U.S. military personnel.

On July 18, Curran will compete in the Nautica New York City Triathlon as he raises money for Tuesday's Children, one of the four charities featured on Freedom's Light, and a foundation that supports people directly affected by 9/11 as well as global terrorism.

It's an important cause for Curran, a Valley Cottage resident who graduated from North Rockland High School and then went to West Point before serving five years in the Army's 10th Mountain Division. Even after leaving the Army in 2002, Curran said he feels a perpetual pull to continue helping those who serve.

How else to explain a 36-year-old with three knee surgeries behind him continuing to pound on his body?

“Veterans need to be supporting veterans," he said simply. "I just feel the need to give back, because I understand a little bit more than the average person what these heroes are going through."

Curran makes it clear that he "hasn't seen the unthinkable" like some soldiers; he was never deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan because of his knee issues, serving instead as an Army Engineer officer at home.

Still, his transition from the army back to civilian life was difficult; when 9/11 happened, it was only months before Curran was scheduled to leave the military and return to start the family he and Gina had planned before he enlisted. Seeing the war on terror beginning and knowing that many of his friends would be going to fight it left Curran with a lingering doubt about whether he really could — or should — leave the Army as scheduled.

Ultimately, he did, but he readily admits that it took him a while to allow himself to enjoy life. At barbecues on July 4 or Memorial Day, Curran would be "emotionally distant," he said. People would come up to him and say, "Pat, what's wrong?" and he would shake his head. "I'm just thinking about some things," he'd say.

"You have a really hard time enjoying yourself out of the army," he said recently. "I mean, what about the people who aren't?"

Becoming a storyteller and, by extension, a fundraiser, helped him deal. He began by running (and raising money) for Fisher House, an organization that helps military families, and was running for them during the '08 Marine Corps Marathon. During his training for that race, he began writing journal entries about his experiences, trying to highlight worthy people and stories that were emblematic of his commitment to service. He's continued to do that as Freedom's Light has grown, and he also sees the journal entries as a permanent record his daughters can read when they are older.

"People who are close to me support me because they understand why," he said. "They also know that long-term is that my dream is to have a team that does this."

Curran believes that's a realistic goal. How many years away is it? What will it take? He doesn't know. All he is sure about is that there are people serving, people battling, and he wants to do whatever he can to be behind them.

"That's what this is about," he said. "What about them? What about the ones who are still fighting?"