From the Heart: Bob Hammitt

With the 13th anniversary of September 11th this week, Boston registration opening and the 200th anniversary of our National Anthem, I’ve thought a lot about Bob Hammitt. My favorite part about the Foot Traffic Marathon on Sauvie’s Island wasn’t the course, medal or any of the usual running related fun. Instead, my favorite thing about this marathon was the spirit. Held on the Fourth of July, everyone was dressed in their red, white and blue and I loved the patriotic spirit. There was one particular runner who stood out. It was impossible to miss the guy running 26.2 miles with a full size flag, 3 X 5 feet, to be exact. That’s only slightly smaller than me and the guy carrying it is my new role model. I say all the time how awesome runners are, but Bob Hammitt takes that awesome to a new level.

A history teacher in Canby, the more I learn about this guy, the more impressed I am. He ran Boston in 2013, the year two cowards decided to forever change America’s iconic marathon. His parents, sister and brother-in-law had traveled to Boston to support him. They were cheering him on from the sidelines, in fact they were standing where the second bomb went off. Fortunately, Hammitt had finished and they were a safe distance from the bombings, but for so many others, that wasn’t the case. On the trip home he was angry, like many, and couldn’t believe anyone could set a bomb down next to innocent children.

He decided to use that anger and show that the bombers didn’t succeed that day, except to bring us together. Hammitt wanted to take a stand and make a statement with his flag, Boston attire and running shoes. Just one story of how the bombers actually brought people closer, how the nation came together in disbelief and united to find the bombers and help the victims. Within weeks, there were charity runs all over the country raising money for the bombing victims, proof that there is still good out there.

Hammitt was born in Eugene, so Track Town USA was the perfect spot to make his statement. Well before I spotted him at Sauvie’s Island, he ran the Eugene Marathon with his Boston gear and American flag. Veterans thanked him for his support, people made a point to run with him and he loved the crowd chanting USA USA USA.  “I love it when little kids get excited about seeing someone running with a flag, it gives me hope for the future,” Hammitt noted.

Hammitt didn’t start running until the mid 90’s. He was an assistant baseball coach at Western Oregon and there was a first baseman that needed to lose some weight to improve his game. Instead of yelling or belittling him, Hammitt ran with him, setting an example and keeping him motivated. Running stuck with him and he ran his first marathon in 2008. Teaching in a high school now, he still has the same values, work ethic and drive.

Promoting patriotism and educating the kids of our future, one student at a time, isn’t enough for this marathoner. My favorite project this guy has going is a Facebook page called ‘More Than Half Full.’ The news is depressing, draining and I usually can’t handle it. For me, if I focus on the negative, I see more negative, but if I focus on the positive, I see it in more. There is good out there, sometimes it’s just harder to find. I appreciate that Hammitt is willing to take the time to hunt for the good and pass it along. Check out this page and you’ll be inspired, guaranteed.  This guy continues to give and I had to ask what inspired him. “People who are brave, people who are resilient, people that are positive, and people that put others first. There are so many heroes and inspirational people all around us, we just have to take the time to notice.”

I couldn’t agree more. There is plenty of good out there, sometimes we need to just look a little harder and retrain how we view things. Check out his Facebook page and maybe think of some ways you can make a difference. I admire this guy for taking a horrific experience and making some good come out of it, refusing to let the bombers keep us down.

We live in a beautiful country and, unfortunately, evil will happen, but how we face that evil defines us and our nation. Look for the good, pass it along and inspire those around you. Despite the horror caused by two sick men, the American Spirit prevails and Hammitt is proof. His spirit is embodied when he runs and through his Facebook page, ‘More than Half Full.’  Each and every day, he helps me truly appreciate how good we really have it. Go out, get inspired, pass it along and definitely give this guy a shout out next time you see him running with the red, white and blue.

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