He did it! Br. John Eustice, CSV, completed his fifth marathon Sunday, crossing the finish line in Grant Park at the 45th annual Chicago Marathon. Along the way, he saw many friends and former students cheering him on. Back home at Maternity BVM Church in Bourbonnais, where he serves as a transitional deacon, parishioners tracked his progress through an app shared on the parish Facebook page.

Br. John Eustice before Mass with Fr. Moses Mesh and altar servers

But what made the day even more rewarding was his role serving as chaplain for Team SALUTE, a suburban nonprofit that provides everyday essentials to injured veterans and military families. Br. John followed in the footsteps of Fr. Dan Hall, CSV, who ran 50 marathons after reaching the age of 50, and served as chaplain for Team SALUTE.

Br. John and his 140 team members raised more than $250,000 for injured veterans and their families. He described it as an honor to be able to support a charity that cares so deeply for the veterans and their families. He personally knows many veterans who have needed extra help after their service.

“Each time I run in my training, I call to mind either specific injured veterans, or those who are suffering from PTSD or physical injuries,” Br. John says. “When I feel like I don’t want to push forward in training, the vets come to mind.”

Maternity BVM parishioners tracked Br. John’s progress

He had the veterans on his mind during the grueling 26.2 miles, running through Chicago’s neighborhoods. In fact, they helped Br. John more than achieve his goal of merely finishing.

“My goal is to finish upright, alive and before dark,” Br. John said before the race. “I look forward to leading Team SALUTE in prayer and continuing to raise awareness and funds for those who have offered their service.”

He and his teammates did that and more, said Mary Beth Beiersdorf, Executive Director of SALUTE: “They help us spread a powerful message of hope and compassion.”