For 3,954 consecutive days, Roger Raymond had laced his running shoes for an average six-mile, early-morning run. It added up to 10.8 years.
Last month, on Sept. 12, his streak came to a shattering end. Trying to get out of the way of an oncoming car, Raymond fell as he went into an alley way behind Marco Floor Covering, just off San Marco Road on Marco Island.
The result, his right femur was broken in two places. A passer-by, Heidi Kallinich, heard his cry for help. She called police and Raymond’s wife Karen.
Raymond was taken to Physicians Regional Collier where he underwent surgery that evening. He returned home on Sept. 16. His therapy continues at home, under guidance of physical therapist Cathy De Renzo of AmeriCare Home Health.
“He is an ideal patient who doesn’t mind going past his comfort level to heal,” she said. She works with him three days a week. He does not put any weight on his right foot.
“When we started he could barely go 10 feet (using a walker to exercise).” she said. “ Now he walks outside, down the driveway, more than 100 feet,” she said after therapy on Sept, 27. Raymond said he probably won’t be able to walk for a few more weeks, but hopes to start work sooner.
“I wish I could have ended the streak on my terms,” Raymond said. “I did it mostly because I enjoy running. I don’t recommend it to anyone.”
During the run he ran some 400 races, including 10 marathons, three in Boston and once in New York and San Francisco.
He said he did it as much for his kids, to show them that running and exercise in general can be for a lifetime.
“My life with my kids has been what I am about,” he said.
Raymond has never been the type to let grass grow under his feet. He is the athletic director for Marco Island Charter Middle and Marco Island Academy, For Charter, 14 years, the Academy, two. He coached cross country, basketball and track for the charter school before giving up basketball the past year to concentrate on establishing a full sports program at the Academy.
Under his leadership the school now has basketball, volleyball, golf, cross country, swimming, boys and girls soccer, baseball, boys and girls tennis and boys and girls track.
He was dearly missed on Saturday when Marco Island Charter Middle School and Marco Island Academy co-hosted a cross country invitational.
Chris Black and Mark McGarity, Lely cross county coaches, set up the race course. Black worked that day in recording race times for competitors, along with Kelly Minnot, Academy volleyball coach. Raymond’s wife, Karen, was there to answer questions that might come up from the nine high schools and 12 middle schools that took part.
Monnot has been helping Raymond with his athletic director duties.
Raymond introduced cross country to the middle school 11 years ago.
“I didn’t start out with the mind set that I was going to run every day,” he said. “I started running when my daughter Jessie who was part of the charter school’s cross country team and continued at Lely.”
He hooked up with another runner, McGarity at Lely. He credits McGarity with him learning how to run.
His first running streak lasted 200 days when he fell on one of his morning runs.
“I missed a day, but really wanted to run at Taylor Park in Largo when Lely competed in the regional,” he said. Raymond ran the practice run with the girls who qualified for the state 2A championship. They missed winning the team title by 31 seconds in 2002.
Along the way he didn’t let falling off a ladder, breaking three ribs, stop him.
Nor did a lengthy layover in the Albuquerque, New Mexico Airport after completing the San Francisco Marathon in 2006. The plane was diverted due to weather.
It was after 6 p.m., West Coast time. Raymond knew he wasn’t going to get home that day, which would have halted his consecutive days.
“It wasn’t a very big terminal, maybe a quarter-mile in length,” he said. “I had to run the distance several times. A lot of people looked at me a little funny. I was surprised security didn’t stop me.”
His Indiana rural upbringing shows in his straightforward manner that apparently pleases his athletes and the way he cares about them and his community.
Tina Nash understands. She is putting together a 5K Color Run, at 4 p.m. on Nov. 16, at the charter school. Funds raised will assist Raymond with his medical costs.
At stages in the run, the participants will be showered with various colors of powdered chalk.
“They end up looking like they are wearing a tie-dye shirt,” Nash said. She’s looking for chalk donations that can be delivered to the two schools, or at the home football games for charter and the Academy.
Refreshments and music will follow the 5K. Advance registration can be done online at www.runsignup.com/raymond5k.
Cost is $20 for ages over 18, $15 for ages 5 to 17, kids 1-4 free. Packets can be picked up at the Sports Authority off Pine Ridge Road in Naples on Nov. 15. In the packets will be 15 percent discount coupons to the Authority. Sponsorships are available, from $150 to $700.
For more information contact Nash at email@example.com.