By Jon Tatting
A Rush City woman got to cross an item off her bucket list last month after completing an emotional run at the nation’s oldest service academy in New York.
Bonnie Carlson beat the nerves that tried to shake her by finishing the Cadet Moms Inaugural 5k Run on Aug. 25 at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Accompanying was her 21-year-old son Houston Carlson, a West Point cadet and 2010 graduate of Rush City High School.
It was a good day for Carlson and the other 80 or so West Point moms who helped raise money for Fisher House, an organization that provides housing for families of service men and women during recovery and treatment at military hospitals nationwide.
She raised $2,200, with the help of 41 donors, representing one of the top amounts among the run participants. In all, $50,000 was generated for the cause.
The moms also ran to honor wounded military who have served the United States as West Point graduates.
“There is an enormous bond I have with the other West Point moms,” noted Carlson. “It’s really hard to understand. Our kids do everything together.”
Reflecting back on the 5k run, Carlson admitted feeling a bit nervous upon setting out on a course with hills along the Hudson River. But she had trained hard, having entered four 5k (3.1 miles) runs earlier in the summer.
“I have never run like this before,” said Carlson, noting it took a toll on her physically. “My running days are over. I think there are better ways to stay in shape.”
Still, she found great reward in participating in the event, as it allowed her the unique opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with her middle child who lives so far away. She saw first-hand, too, the man he is becoming.
“Houston was encouraging, loving and proud of me,” Carlson described. “He was just a trooper; he was just smiling away. And he held my hand at the finish line.”
She was touched by the folks from the Fisher House organization who showed up and cheered on the runners from start to finish. She was touched by the financial and emotional support that she received from family, friends, local businesses and even strangers.
“The Rush City community was awesome, as well as people I went to college with who I haven’t seen in 25 years. People I didn’t even know donated,” Carlson explained. “I learned there are people who have great love for the military. People want to help and give and make a difference, but they don’t know where to go. So people felt honored they could do something.”
Emotion further tugged at Carlson over run weekend at West Point where she learned of Houston’s future interest in the military. “Infantry,” she just about whispered.
“He doesn’t want to be a desk boy,” said Carlson, noting Houston will graduate in 2014. “He wants to be where the action is. He believes this is God’s calling for him, so how can I fight that?”
The Cadet Moms 5K Run is expected to become an annual event, and Carlson will be there to give back — whether in a supporting role or an organizational one. Above all, she is proud to say: “I am a member of the first West Point 5K to raise money for wounded soldiers, and that’s really neat.”
As for what’s next on that bucket list?
“I would like to go salmon fishing in Alaska,” she said.
"Holidays, birthdays & anniversaries have been celebrated with tears and smiles with people who truly understand what the other person is experiencing."
- Kamryn Jaroszewski