Since our first Run For The Warriors event in 2006, our race series has connected us with hundreds of warriors and supporters we’ve welcomed into our family. One such individual is retired Marine Corps SGM Domenick Irrera, who has been a part of almost every Run For The Warriors race in Jacksonville, NC, since the first in 2006.
Since before Domenick Irrera entered the Marine Corps in 1943, running was integral to his life. During his time in the Marines, he ran to and from work at Camp Lejeune every Thursday and ran various distances daily, only taking off Sunday to spend time with his church and family. After his retirement in the 1980s, he continued making running and fitness a major priority in his life.
During the Run preparations in 2006, our President/CEO Robin Kelleher saw a group of retired Marines jogging and walking together every single day. With hopes of earning their support and participation, she stopped and handed SGM Irrera a flyer inviting him and his group to our run. The rest is history.
In 2018, 93-year-old Irrera decided he could not compete, but not being there to support was not an option. Inspired by his determination, fellow Marine and Eastern Pennsylvanian, Staff Sergeant Nicole Shimp, took on the honor of running the 5K wearing SGM Irrera’s bib #312. Keeping his winning tradition alive, SSgt Shimp placed 1st in her division, 2nd among all females, and 11th overall. At the end of the race, SGM Irrera was at the awards ceremony to give SSgt Shimp her medal along with many other winning runners, offering them words of congratulations, wisdom, and encouragement.