Deployed Airmen run to raise reflex neurovascular dystrophy awareness
By Tech. Sgt. Scott G. Herrington, 148th FW
/ Published April 15, 2012
DULUTH, Minn -- 148th Fighter Wing Firefighter Tech. Sgt. Wayne E. Jenderny ran 100 miles to raise awareness for reflex neurovascular dystrophy April 7, 2012. While deployed at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Jenderny learned that a fellow deployed Airman's daughter was diagnosed with RND.
Sharon Soergel, the 12-year-old daughter of Master Sgt. Pete Soergel, a member of the 171st Pittsburgh Air National Guard and a City of Pittsburgh firefighter, has been diagnosed with RND. A painful condition, RND leads to severe pain in the joints and muscles in children. The pain is caused by a nerve sensitivity whereby the nerves in the body send pain signals to the brain inappropriately. Sharon has extensive physical therapy sessions to retrain the affected nerves and reduce the pain.
"Sharon has a lot of challenges she faces every day, we all do," said Soergel. "But now my daughter knows that there are people all over the world who are thinking about her and praying for her. This has really helped her, especially since her dad's going to be away for six months; and because it's easier for her, it's easier for me."
"I have been deployed with Master Sgt. Soergel twice, along with several other 148th firefighters," said Jenderny. "Many of us in our 148th unit know him. And, as with many deployments, new friendships are forged. So from our deployments in 2008 and 2010, we have gotten to know much of his family from this exemplary Senior NCO. His daughter has a recognized condition now; however, it has been well over a year that a sound diagnosis had been made. Without it, his daughter had to go through unfortunate medical delays of 'trial and error,' from hospital to different hospital, to find a diagnosis which could yield the proper route of care."
Once word was spread about Sharon's condition, the deployed firefighters from the 148th Fighter Wing and 133rd Airlift Wing were compelled to make a difference.
"The concern and interest in the welfare of this fellow firefighter's daughter was very evident in conversations heard around the fire station," said Jenderny. "All we needed was a channel to provide that support."
Jenderny decided he would attempt a 100-mile run in under 24 hours. A daunting task for most runners, Jenderny considered it a personal goal. Throughout his run, Jenderny received motivation and aid from his fellow Airmen.
"Most people on base seemed to know what he was doing when he passed them and honked and gave support as they passed by," said Lt. Col. Daniel E. Gabrielli. "The Minnesota Air National Guard firefighters are extremely popular here. I found that out quickly when I came out here to start my deployment in early March, and whenever I mentioned that I was Minnesota Air National Guard, they went on and on about the firefighters as well as the 133rd Civil Engineering folks who were here earlier this year."
Gabrielli, the 133rd Airlift Wing Operations Support Flight Commander and 386th Expeditionary Operations Group Deputy Commander, met Jenderny during the run.
"He was accompanied by volunteers throughout the run, as well as the wing commander at the end," said Gabrielli. "I was happy that we started running with him at mile 57, because then I thought he might be tired enough to be at my pace."
"Many helped with the aid station which was set up at our main fire station apparatus bay," said Jenderny. "Most of the firefighters ran some mileage with me. I even was joined by the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Commander and many of his staff. I had experienced running pacers for key parts of the event-- namely, our 148th Firefighters who helped pace the event. Tech. Sgt. Tom Simmonds paced with my final seven miles, and Master Sgt. Mark Watczak paced my starting 10 miles-- 10 in the hottest part of the early afternoon, and my last seven miles. They were both invaluable."
Looking back at more than 22 hours of running in high heat, Jenderny describes his success as something made possible only with the help of the deployed Airmen around him.
"It is truly amazing what we as a fire department can accomplish when we want to," said Jenderny. "Each and every firefighter from our unit played an instrumental part to my completing this run. In these desert conditions, there is no way I could not have done this without my fellow 148th CE firefighters supporting me during those 22-plus hours."
"I found out that Wayne posted his pictures and information about his run on his Facebook site right before I was going to report to the MAC terminal to get on the rotator," said Soergel. "I only had a few minutes to post it onto my wall, and when I was able to check it last night I already saw 30 people had 'liked' it. So I'm not sure what support people will offer other than their thoughts and prayers, but those thoughts and prayers are absolutely priceless for Sharon and myself."