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Veterans run 24 hours to raise funds for nonprofit group

U.S. military veterans Bob Mohr (Marines) and Eric Whittington (Army) make their way around the the perimeter of Whispering Grace Horses and Freedom Farm during their 24-hour charity run. The pair often run in 100-mile events to raise money the equine program for veterans. (CantonRep.com / Ray Stewart/TNS)

With temperatures hovering near freezing and gray skies threatening snow, Eric Whittington and Bob Mohr readied for a long run.

The two men, both veterans, planned to run for 24-hours and 100 miles around the perimeter of Whispering Grace Horses to raise funds for the faith-based facility.

“They picked the coldest day of May to run,” laughed Bill Shearer, who owns the farm with wife Marcia.

U.S. Marine veteran Bob Mohr greets Toby at Freedom Farms prior to beginning his 24-hour charitable run with Army veteran Eric Whittington. The two vets ran the perimeter of Whispering Grace Horses and Freedom Farm to raise money for the Freedom Farms equine program for veterans. (CantonRep.com / Ray Stewart/TNS)

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Whispering Grace is non-profit equine center focused on “educating and building partnerships between humans and horses.”

The farm has 11 horses and works with about 270 families. In 2018, they launched Freedom Farm to work with veterans and their families.

Working with horses provides veterans some healing from the things they’ve gone through, said Katie Walkup, who runs the veterans program.

U.S. military veterans Bob Mohr (Marines) and Eric Whittington (Army) talk about the impact in their lives of Freedom Farm at Whispering Grace Horses. The vets were about to start a 24-hour run of the perimeter of Whispering Grace Horses and Freedom Farm to raise money the equine program for veterans. (CantonRep.com / Ray Stewart/TNS)

“Our goal here is to make this the absolute best day a person can have,” Bill Shearer said.

“We have a definition of a successful day out here. If we can laugh, we can cry, and we can pray. If we get all three of those going in one day, that’s a good day.”

The farm relies on donations. The facility has complied with social distancing orders during the coronavirus pandemic, but it still has to feed and care for the horses.

So Whittington and Mohr decided to help out. The two runners, who have done numerous 100-mile-plus runs in the past, were lamenting a canceled race season over burgers when inspiration struck.

U.S. military veterans Bob Mohr (Marines) and Eric Whittington (Army) make their way around the the perimeter of Whispering Grace Horses and Freedom Farm during their 24-hour charity run, May 9, 2020. The pair often run in 100-mile events to raise money the equine program for veterans. (CantonRep.com / Ray Stewart/TNS)

They called Shearer and proposed a 100-mile run around the farm to raise funds. They’ve so far raised more than $2,000.

“It’s a lifestyle,” Whittington said about running.

After serving in the military and being in recovery, you want to do things that are mentally and physically challenging, he said.

“It feels good. Legally,” he laughed.

“It keeps me sober,” Mohr added. “I’ve messed up my life so bad, the only way I can give back is to help others. That’s why I do it.”

U.S. military veterans Bob Mohr (Marines) and Eric Whittington (Army) make their way around the the perimeter of Whispering Grace Horses and Freedom Farm during their 24-hour charity run. The pair often run in 100-mile events to raise money the equine program for veterans. (CantonRep.com / Ray Stewart/TNS)

Running while helping Whispering Grace, “a place we love more than any other place in the world,” is a win-win, Whittington said.

For more on Whispering Grace, see whisperinggracehorses.org.

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