Dark and gloomy days filled with misting rain and wind didn’t hold back Eva Casale and Team Eva — Every Veteran Appreciated — from their commitment to honoring local servicemen killed in action. With their feet pounding the slippery streets of Long Island, Team Eva took on the astonishing challenge of running a marathon a day to raise money for, and awareness of, the nation’s veterans. Team EVA started their journey seven years ago and have since ran a total of 1,288 miles.
Every year, the marathon is planned to conclude in time for the beginning of National Military Appreciation Month in May. This year, the journey was held from April 23 through April 29, as Casale ran marathons placing flowers or wreaths at 350 points of honor to celebrate the memory of fallen veterans and all veterans in the Long Island communities she and her Team Eva ran across.
The journey started in Huntington, and continued into Northport, Long Island National Cemetery, Eisenhower Park, Shelter Island, Sag Harbor, Calverton, Westhampton, Brookhaven, Patchogue, Medford, Long Island’s South Shore, Oyster Bay and Bayville. Casale and Team Eva crossed the finish line in Glen Cove, her hometown.
The journey to help veterans started when Casale met members of Gold Star Families for Peace, a nonprofit that advocates for families of fallen service members. Casale has been running for decades, and she took up the sport with her late father, Jerry Casale, in East Moriches when she was 15 to exercise and stay active. Before long she realized that she had a knack for running long distances. What started as a one lap around the block, Eva said, turned into 10 miles. Casale ran her first marathon, the New York City Marathon, in 1983, when she was 18.
Almost every member of Team Eva knows someone who is a veteran or on active duty. Casale’s brother and father are veterans, her father having served in the Korean War. Susan Warsaw, of Coram, a team member, watched the organization flourish, with support from Long Islanders who cheer them on every year. Four other members of the team runs segments of the marathons, but only Casale logs every mile.
“The true measure of passion and commitment is found in the unwavering dedication demonstrated by Team EVA as they focus on their mission to support and honor Long Island’s veterans,” Pamela Panzenbeck, Glen Cove mayor, said.
Their remarkable efforts serve as an inspiration to us all, reminding us that we can make a profound difference in the lives of those who have sacrificed so much for our democracy.”