RPI assistant hockey coach Nolan Graham is doing something very few people can even dream of accomplishing. The reason he is doing it makes it even more special. Graham is running 50 miles to raise money for Defending the Blue Line, a charity that benefits children of armed service members.
"I am running the 50-mile Beast of Burden race to help launch RPI's fundraising efforts for the great organization Defending the Blue Line," said Graham.
According to the organization's website, its mission is "ensuring that children of military members are afforded every opportunity to participate in the game of hockey." The Boston Bruins and the University of Minnesota hockey program are two other hockey organizations that have already contributed to this terrific cause.
Graham, originally from Nanaimo, British Columbia, is entering his fourth season as an assistant coach at his alma mater. He played for the Engineers from 1999-2003 tallying 27 goals and 50 assists.
On Saturday Graham will be running 50 miles in the Beast of Burden Run in Lockport, NY. The ultra-marathon is a course where participants will run out 25 miles and then back 25 miles along the Erie Canal.
Some people might think Graham is crazy for putting himself through such a physical regimen, but the coach thinks differently. "I am extremely grateful for the opportunities that the game of hockey has given me. If running 50 miles can help even one child of a military family enjoy playing the great game of hockey, then our mission is accomplished," the coach said.
Graham has been running competitively for a few years now, including running the 2013 Boston Maraton in a time of 3:15:46. While this run might seem like an extraordinary physical toll to most of us, Graham believes his task Saturday is relatively easy. "Running 50 miles is such a miniscule sacrifice in comparison to what military families sacrifice for us on a daily basis.
The RPI hockey program, led by head coach Seth Appert in his eighth season, will be partnering with Defending the Blue Line throughout the season to raise awareness for the cause.
"With the support of family, friends, coworkers and colleagues, I feel extremely fortunate to have this opportunity to give back to military families."
For people interested in donating to RPI's efforts for Defending the Blue Line, the link can be found below. Graham wanted to be sure to mention the sincere appreciation he has for those of who have donated or are considering a donation.
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Jeff Cox is a hockey reporter for SBNation. Follow him on twitter ww@JeffCoxSBNation.