For Jeff Reynolds, running for a cause is nothing out of the ordinary. As President/CEO of Family & Children’s Association, a community partner agency of United Way, Reynolds has worked extensively with programs that assist struggling families, children and adults. Now, as he joins Team Mission United, he looks to help extend these services to veterans as well.
Since his start as a competitive runner six years ago, Reynolds has made the leap from 5ks to marathons, and beyond to triathlons. All the while, he has made it a point to run on behalf of various nonprofit organizations. His history of commitment to a cause, in addition to his connection to United Way, made Reynolds the perfect candidate for Team Mission United, which is why Nassau County Taxi and Limousine Commissioner and United Way Board of Directors member Gregory May didn’t hesitate to recruit him.
“I’ve been friends with Jeff for a long time, and knew he would be the perfect person to join Team Mission United,” said May. “His passion for helping those in need is evident in everything that he does; running the 2017 TCS NYC Marathon on behalf of veterans is just another example of his selflessness and willingness to give back to his community."
Reynolds, himself, saw the opportunity as a match made in heaven. As someone who recognizes the importance of assisting vulnerable communities, he was immediately drawn to Mission United’s dedication to helping veterans. “It’s a population that’s often overlooked,” he said. “Veterans, those who are returning home, face a number of challenges – issues related to mental health, substance abuse, job placement, family re-orientation…they experience everything we do at a bigger magnitude.” Team Mission United offers the ideal chance to make a difference, as Mission United offers programs and services centered on addressing these problems, including career training, employment services and case management.
According to Reynolds, remaining mindful of his reasons for running makes the path to one of the world’s most prestigious marathons seem a little less rigorous. “It’s all in context. Running for veterans helps put a 26.2-mile marathon in perspective. These are veterans who put their bodies and minds on the line for months, sometimes years, at a time,” he said. Running for a cause keeps this Hauppauge resident motivated to keep up with his intense training regimen, which consists of running 25-30 miles a week, swimming and biking under the direction of a professional coach.
He hopes that, in the end, his hard work will reach others and inspire them to contribute to the cause as well. “The act of crowdfunding for veterans sends a message to the larger community that this is an issue that deserves their attention. In addition to raising funds, I want to raise awareness about the needs of veterans, especially on Long Island,” he said. His aspirations reflect those of Team Mission United as a whole – to bring attention to the needs of the over 100,000 veterans currently residing on Long Island that are far too often overlooked.
As Reynolds works to support Team Mission United, he relies on the support of his own family to keep him going. Between his wife, Maureen, and his two young children, Brooke and Ryan, he has someone cheering him on every step of the way.
In fact, his children have even started to follow in his footsteps. At the age of ten, Brooke has completed her first 5k, while six-year-old Ryan has finished his second. By the looks of it, Team Mission United may have some fresh faces in the years to come.