March 3, 2024. It was a perfect day for a marathon in Tokyo. It was partly cloudy, 53 degrees, and there was only a slight chance of rain. Thousands of runners were on the course, including Team HOPE Athlete of the Month Jessica B. If she crossed the finish line, she would earn her sixth major medal, joining the exclusive “Six Star Club.” Just over 11,000 athletes across the world have completed the daunting task of completing the Boston, New York, Chicago, London, Tokyo, and Berlin Marathons. It took Jessica years of perseverance, determination, and struggles to get to this moment.

Jessica Berry's race medal and number.

Around Mile 22, Jessica, a Marine veteran, felt confident that she would finish. Her knee was holding up well after her partial knee replacement in 2023. “It felt surreal,” she says. “It was very emotional.” She was overwhelmed with accomplishment after finishing in just over five hours. “When I first set out on this Six Star journey, I honestly didn’t think it was attainable,” she says. “This accomplishment is very special to me because of the things I’ve overcome along the course of this journey.”

Each Marathon Jessica has run has brought its own set of challenges. The 2018 Boston Marathon was freezing cold, but she pushed through. Two years ago, her knee locked up at Mile 11 during the New York Marathon. “That was the first time I wanted to quit,” she reflected. But she didn’t. In Chicago, she was really dehydrated, but she persevered.

One thing that has attracted Jessica to running is the mental fortitude required to pound the pavement for 26.2 miles. She joined the Marines in 2002, deploying three times over five years. When she got out in 2007, she fell into a deep depression and struggled with PTSD. Medications didn’t help, but running did. “It gives me that freedom. You don’t have to focus on anything except what’s in front of you,” she says. “All of the struggles with PTSD and depression, it’s so heavy. If I can go out there and just run, it’s feeling free from all of that. There is no weight to carry anymore.”

Jessica found HOPE midway through her Six Star journey, learning about the organization from another Team HOPE Athlete of the Month and Six Star finisher, Nekita Hunter. She loves the personal touch that comes with being a Team HOPE athlete. “[I love] just feeling so welcome and accepted and supported. It’s like HOPE is adding a personal effect to it.”

Jessica was thrilled to be named the Team HOPE Athlete of the Month for April. “I was super excited. It made my day. It feels good to be recognized for this accomplishment.” HOPE is excited to have you on board, Jessica, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for you!

Team Hope For The Warriors (Team HOPE) provides athletes of all abilities the opportunity to compete at various endurance events throughout the year.

Warrior Team members are provided race support, goal-setting opportunities, and social engagement to ensure they all feel the camaraderie, belonging, and connection of being part of a team.

All Warrior Team participants must connect to services with Hope For The Warriors before being added to the program.