Virginia Tech cadet to run NYC Marathon in support of military veterans

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) -- Like many of us, Virginia Tech student Hannah Santus made a New Year's resolution to ring in 2019.

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But while most of ours have likely been tossed aside, hers is still going.

"I signed up for this in January and it was kind of like a 2019-type goal," Santus, a senior, said. "I mean, here we are, in November, 11 months later. But I was like, 'You know, I'm just gonna' sign up for it, go for it and see what happens.'"

In just four days, Santus will join more than 50,000 others in the annual New York City Marathon - the largest in the world.

Her training began this summer, at home in New Jersey, and has continued this semester at Tech, where she serves as a member of the Naval ROTC.

Her goal is to one day be a pilot for the United States Navy.

"When I was little I wanted to be an astronaut, and that's like a very big dream for a little kid," Santus said, "but I've realized you could actually almost reach those dreams just by flying an airplane."

With no military background in her family, Santus said she wants to serve as a way to give back for the things many of us take for granted.

She's running the marathon for the same reasons.

"When I signed up for this, I kind of realized, if I'm going to put myself through all of this pain and long runs and stress to run every day, I might as well do it for something that can actually make a difference in someone else's life," Santus said.

So come Sunday, Santus will run for Hope for the Warriors, an organization that seeks to help post-9/11 service members, their families and families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

"They basically try to help out veterans with their transition back into civilian life and, specifically, help them with their families to try and rebuild that connection that may have lacked a little bit on deployment, or just may be a little bit in some rough patches," she said.

Santus recently reached her goal of $3,500 in donations, and she said pledges are still coming in.

"So many people have supported my cause, and they really, truly believe in it the same way that I do," Santus said. "They're supporting me, but they're also supporting the veterans and the Hope for the Warriors, which they may not have ever looked into or heard about before I decided to run this."

For Santus, it's that impact that makes the sweat and the sacrifice that much sweeter.

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