Deena Menendez of Hauppauge is beginning to undertake the long and rigorous training schedule that will eventually bring her to the New York City Marathon this November. The 26.2 grueling miles will be a quest for personal achievement, but more important to Deena is the cause she will be running for.
Deena, who is a claims adjuster for GEICO in Woodbury, will be joined by runners from other corporations who support United Way of Long Island to form Team Mission United.
The Team will run while raising funds and public awareness for Mission United, which serves active military and veterans across Long Island.
For Deena running for Mission United is a labor of love. Her husband Ed, who served during both Desert Storm and Desert Shield, is an Air Force veteran. Her association with the military does not end there.
Deena’s 26-year-old son Scott served in the US Army. Her oldest son Sean, who is 28, is currently in the Coast Guard serving in Astoria, Oregon and youngest son Shane at 20 is a Marine in San Diego.
Deena is involved in a leadership role with GEICO for their United Way of Long Island Annual Workplace Campaign. When hearing about the opportunity, her past supervisor, who knew she both ran and had a military background, approached her about being nominated to represent GEICO on Team Mission United.
Deena was honored, saying that, “Joining the Team is the least I can do to help raise money for what active military and veterans have done for us.”
Deena also takes pride in representing GEICO. As a military mom and wife, she has long seen how GEICO supports Mission United and veteran’s causes. Deena has been impressed by GEICO’s philanthropic spirit since she joined the company. She recalled that “From the moment I walked into GEICO 13 years ago I was impressed and inspired how they offer a helping hand to not only those in need but also to our associates. One of GEICO’s undertakings is to help place and find jobs for veterans within the company.”
John Pham, GEICO Regional Vice President and Chair-Elect of United Way of Long Island is pleased that Deena is competing for Mission United. He commented, “Deena is running for all of us here at GEICO. She represents our own commitment to both supporting and hiring veterans. Mission United is near and dear to the hearts of so many of our associates who support the program. To have a valued associate from a military family run to represents GEICO shows our firm commitment to those who have served.”
Deena’s first distance run came this past winter when she entered the Disney Half Marathon in Florida during a family vacation. To keep it all in the family husband Ed joined in as well as their 15-year-old daughter Starlette. The family got interested in running when Starlette, who has Downs Syndrome, joined a running club that trains at Hauppauge High School.
Deena is already gearing up for the Marathon. She is currently running 2 miles a day, will up that to 10 miles by June and then do a 23 mile run in October before she starts to taper down prior to the race.
Deena is anxious to meet her teammates and talk about running and raising money for Mission United. Although GEICO is offering Deena support, she wants to go above and beyond and raise all the money she can.
Although running in the New York City Marathon has been on Deena’s bucket list, doing it for her family is a major motivation. Deena said that “Raising money for Mission United to me is supporting what my children and husband have done for the country. I want to give back to them and everyone who has served in the military.”
By the way, Deena and Ed have a fifth child, daughter Siobhan. Currently, she has no military aspirations. Deena reflected that “I have an Air Force Husband and boys who have served in the Army, Coast Guard, and Marines. The only branch that is missing is the Navy!”