Heber Alonzo Meraz

Heber Alonzo Meraz Uncovers Details of the World’s Longest Foot Race

Retired Marine Corps SSgt Heber Meraz takes a closer look at the world’s longest certified foot race which covers almost 5,000 kilometers around a single New York City block.

Held each year since 1997, the so-called ‘Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race,’ created by Sri Chinmoy, entails running almost 5,000 kilometers around a single extended block in Queens, New York City, over the course of more than 50 consecutive days. A retired U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant and keen marathon runner from Hartford, Connecticut, Heber Alonzo Meraz uncovers further details of the event, currently the longest certified foot race in the world.

“The Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race, in which runners must complete all 3,100 miles within 52 days, has been described by The New York Times as the Mount Everest of ultramarathons,” reveals Meraz.

The record for completing the Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race is held by Ashprihanal Aalto, finishing with a time of 40 days, nine hours, and six minutes in July 2015. “The previous record was held by Madhupran Wolfgang Schwerk who had completed the event in a time of 41 days, eight hours, and 16 minutes,” adds keen marathon runner Heber Alonzo Meraz.

Since 1997, the incredible race has been won by runners from countries including Hungary, Finland, Russia, Serbia, Australia, Ukraine, and the United States. Current record holder Ashprihanal Aalto, from Finland, has participated 15 times, winning on nine different occasions.

Only runners with proven ultramarathon experience may compete, running for up to 18 hours each day, and changing direction every 24 hours, according to Meraz. “The race was originally created by Sri Chinmoy,” he explains. An Indian spiritual leader, he was, says Meraz, an advocate for athleticism, including distance running.

“Sadly, Chinmoy passed away from a heart attack at his home in Jamaica, Queens, not far from where the Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race takes place each year, on 11 October 2007,” he adds, wrapping up.

Heber Alonzo Meraz has previously written at length about the health benefits of running, the world’s biggest marathons, and his own local marathon event, the Hartford Marathon, held each year in Hartford, Connecticut.

Meraz has also explored the world’s oldest annual marathon and the world’s toughest endurance races, as well as opening up about the latest maritime industry innovations, his American Red Cross Lifesaving Award, his Connecticut General Assembly citation for lifesaving, and the incredible ongoing work of nonprofit organization Toys for Tots, for which he served as a project coordinator in 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Heber Alonzo Meraz Explores the World’s Oldest Annual Marathon

Keen runner Heber Alonzo Meraz takes a closer look at the Boston Marathon, the world’s oldest annual marathon event.

Inspired by the first-ever marathon competition held during the 1896 Summer Olympics, the Boston Marathon, established in 1897, is the world’s oldest annual marathon. Also considered one of the world’s best-known road races, keen marathon runner Heber Alonzo Meraz offers a closer look at the 122-year-old event.

“Hosted by several cities across the greater Boston area of eastern Massachusetts, the Boston Marathon is an annual marathon race held on Patriots’ Day each year since 1897,” reveals Meraz.

Promptly taking inspiration from the Summer Olympics of 1896, the first-ever Boston Marathon was held the following year. The world’s oldest annual marathon, it also remains among the world’s best-known road racing events. “One of the six so-called ‘World Marathon Majors,’ the Boston Marathon’s course runs from Hopkinton to Copley Square,” Meraz explains.

The Boston Athletic Association has organized the event since its inception more than 120 years ago. “Runners-both amateur and professional-travel from across the world each year to compete in the marathon,” reveals Meraz, “wherein which they brave the hilly Massachusetts terrain and tackle the often varying and sometimes challenging New England weather in the process.”

Attracting more than 500,000 spectators each year, the Boston Marathon is New England’s most widely viewed sporting event. “Only 15 participants ran the inaugural marathon back in 1897,” adds Heber Meraz, “yet, today, the Boston Marathon now attracts around 30,000 registered runners every year.”

Over two decades after it was held, the 100th Boston Marathon still holds the record for the world’s largest-ever marathon event. “More than 38,000 people registered,” explains Meraz, “while precisely 36,748 started and 880 fewer-35,868 to be exact-finished the marathon’s centennial event.”

The Boston Marathon Memorial, close to the finish line in Copley Square, was installed to mark the one-hundredth running of the famous race. Incredibly, the race has never missed a single year, according to Heber Alonzo Meraz. “The event has been held every year since 1897,” reveals the experienced marathon runner, “including during the World War years.”

Recent men’s open Boston Marathon winners include Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya in 2017, Yuki Kawauchi of Japan in 2018, and Lawrence Cherono, again, of Kenya, in 2019. Recent women’s open winners, meanwhile, include Kenya’s Edna Kiplagat in 2017, the 2018 winner, American Desi Linden, and Worknesh Degefa, from Ethiopia, in 2019.

The 2020 Boston Marathon will take place on Monday, April 20, 2020. “Registration for next year’s event will open on Monday, September 9, at 10:00 am,” adds Heber Meraz, wrapping up.

Heber Alonzo Meraz - World's Toughest Endurance Races

Heber Alonzo Meraz Reveals the World’s Toughest Endurance Races

Connecticut marathon runner Heber Alonzo Meraz provides a closer look at several of the world’s toughest and most feared endurance races.

 

Heber Alonzo MerazFrom the Peruvian jungle to the Arctic Circle, Texas native and seasoned marathon runner Heber Alonzo Meraz takes a closer look at some of the world’s toughest and most incredible endurance racing events.

 

“While traditional marathons and obstacle course events have skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, the toughest and most enduring runners and athletes are now turning toward the world’s most difficult endurance races in search of new challenges,” reveals Meraz, a keen marathon runner originally from Texas who’s currently settled in Fairfield County, Connecticut.

 

On the face of it, he says, many of these races seem truly impossible. Yet, each year, the planet’s most enduring runners and athletes travel across the globe to compete in such events, over distances ranging from 100 to more than 3,000 miles.

 

Meraz first highlights Washington’s Pacific Northwest Plain 100. Each year, just 35 individuals are permitted to partake in the event which sees runners tackle 100 unsupported miles across remote trails and forest tracks. “Since the race began in 1997, only 100 or so people have ever finished,” he reveals. What’s more, on four occasions to date, not a single runner was able to complete the challenge, according to Meraz.

 

Next, he turns to the five-stage Jungle Ultra, held in Peru. “Over more than 140 miles, runners must tackle the sweltering humidity of the Peruvian jungle, crossing around 70 rivers and streams in the process,” Meraz reveals.

 

The course descends some 10,500 feet to reach the jungle floor. “Here,” adds Meraz, “in addition to 100 percent humidity and dozens of river crossings, those brave enough to take on the challenge must also face the Peruvian jungle’s abundance of bugs, insects, and other creatures if they wish to reach the finish.”

 

At the other end of the spectrum is the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Challenge. “Only 15 or so people are brave enough to attempt the annual Alaska Mountain Wilderness Challenge each year,” explains Meraz.

 

Established in 1982, the challenge entails facing more than 100 miles of the Alaskan wilderness. There’s no route, and GPS is not permitted. Instead, those brave enough to partake must simply trek toward a predefined finishing point, unaided by maps or modern technology. “Race veterans have compared the event to combat,” adds Meraz, “and at least one participant has lost their life undertaking the challenge.”

 

Heber Alonzo Meraz also highlights New York City’s so-called ‘Self-Transcendence’ race, a 3,100-mile, 52-day undertaking consisting of 5,649 laps around a single city block in the Long Island borough of Queens. “Around 4,000 miles away, meanwhile, the 6633 Ultra,” he adds, “is an 8-day, 350-mile, self-supported race across the Arctic Circle between the Yukon and Northwest Territories which only a dozen or so people have ever finished.”

 

Meraz, however, intends to stick to less extreme, less life-threatening races, at least for now. “I’ll be running this year’s Eversource Hartford Marathon in Hartford, Connecticut, on October 12,” he adds, wrapping up, “which I’m very much looking forward to.”

Heber Meraz Connecticuts Hartford Marathon

Heber Meraz Takes a Closer Look at Connecticut’s Hartford Marathon

Fairfield County’s Heber Meraz offers a closer look at the annual Eversource Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon.

 

Heber Alonzo MerazHeber Meraz is a retired U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant, former Toys for Tots project coordinator, and an American Red Cross Lifesaving Award recipient. Having previously explored a number of the world’s biggest marathons, Meraz provides a closer look at the Connecticut capital city of Hartford’s annual event which the keen runner is set to tackle later this year.

 

Held in and around Bushnell Park and consisting of a marathon, half marathon, and 5K race, the next annual Hartford Marathon event is due to take place this October. “The event is set to kick off at 7:55 am on Saturday, October 12, with a finish line expo and post-race festivities continuing until 2 pm,” points out Meraz.

 

Hartford Marathon is arranged and overseen by Hartford Marathon Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit organization which produces road races in communities across Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

 

“Hartford Marathon Foundation events include 5K, 10K, 10 mile, half marathon, and full marathon races,” reveals Meraz, “in addition to a number of triathlon events, and a further trail race.”

 

In addition to the Hartford Marathon, also known as the Eversource Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon, which takes place each October in Hartford, Connecticut, the Hartford Marathon Foundation’s events calendar also includes more than 30 other races. These welcome both seasoned runners and those of all ages and experience levels, from competitive athletes to individuals simply looking for a new fitness challenge.

 

The Eversource Hartford Marathon and Half Marathon, however, Meraz goes on to reveal, remains by far the largest single aspect of the foundation. “Yet, regardless of the event in question, the Hartford Marathon Foundation supports a wide array of charities throughout the region,” he explains, “and regularly rallies thousands of participants and volunteers alike to ‘run for good’ each year.”

 

According to Heber Meraz, these individuals routinely help to raise more than $500,000 annually, all of which goes directly to vital charities, organizations, and other good causes.

 

“Every year, myself included, many thousands of generous athletes and individuals,” he adds, wrapping up, “complete the Hartford Marathon in order to help raise funds, often for causes which are extremely close to their hearts or matter deeply in their lives.”

 

Hartford Marathon Foundation, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to encourage families and individuals to adopt and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle. The Hartford Marathon Foundation, incorporated in 1994, promotes fitness to all ages and abilities through community collaborations, running events, and school-based programs. For more information, visit https://www.hartfordmarathon.com/.

Heber Meraz Reveals World’s Biggest Marathons

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant and keen runner Heber Meraz explores the world’s biggest marathon events.

 

Heber Alonzo MerazFrom New York City and Chicago to London and Berlin, huge marathon events are hosted yearly across the globe, routinely attracting tens of thousands of participants and similar numbers of spectators. A keen runner and retired U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant, Heber Meraz takes a closer look at some of the world’s biggest annual marathons.

 

“Unsurprisingly, perhaps, Boston Marathon comes top of the list,” reveals Meraz. “Established in 1897, it’s the world’s oldest annual marathon, held every Patriot’s Day on the third Monday of April,” he adds. Among those in the know, so-called ‘Boston qualifying times’ are considered a measure of excellence in amateur marathon running, according to Meraz.

 

“In second place is London Marathon, famed internationally for attracting many of the world’s best marathon runners,” suggests Meraz. “First established in 1981, the race is run each year in the spring,” adds the retired U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant.

 

Taking the third spot among the world’s biggest marathons is New York City’s event. “Attracting record numbers of runners, in 2013, almost 52,000 people took part in the race which runs through all five of the city’s famous boroughs,” Meraz reveals. The New York Marathon takes place on the first Sunday of November each year.

 

“Widely considered the fourth, fifth, and sixth biggest marathon events in the world are those staged in Berlin, Chicago, and Tokyo,” adds Meraz. The Berlin Marathon, Chicago Marathon, and Tokyo Marathon are held in September, October, and February respectively. The three events were established, again, respectively, in 1974, 1977, and much more recently, in 2007, Meraz also points out.

 

Ranked based on size, speed, the host city, and attractiveness to top talent, seventh through ninth are Paris, Dubai, and Amsterdam’s annual marathons.

 

“In tenth place, meanwhile,” adds Meraz, wrapping up, “is the October Toronto Waterfront Marathon, the biggest and fastest marathon event in Canada, and distinct from the smaller Toronto Marathon which takes place earlier in the year, in May.”

 

Heber Meraz is set to run this year’s Hartford Marathon, which takes place in and around the Connecticut capital city’s Bushnell Park, this October.

 

Raised in El Paso, Texas, and Dodge City, Kansas, retired U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Heber Alonzo Meraz is a keen marathon runner, former Toys for Tots project coordinator, neighborhood safety events organizer, and the recipient of both an American Red Cross Lifesaving Award and a State of Connecticut General Assembly official citation for lifesaving. Today, Meraz happily resides in the Fairfield County town of Trumbull, Connecticut, close to the cities of Bridgeport and Shelton, and the towns of Fairfield, Stratford, Monroe, and Easton.

Heber Alonzo Meraz - Maritime Industry Innovations

Heber Alonzo Meraz Explores Latest Maritime Industry Innovations

Project coordinator and senior analyst Heber Alonzo Meraz takes a closer look at recent innovations within the maritime industry.

 

From autonomous ships and drones to firefighting robots, project coordinator, analyst, and former senior military servicemember Heber Alonzo Meraz provides a closer look at three areas of growth leading innovation within today’s rapidly evolving maritime sector.

 

“Cutting edge technological innovation is supporting rapid growth and shaping the future of the global maritime industry, ready to meet and overcome its next stage of challenges,” explains Meraz, a retired U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant, currently serving as a project coordinator and senior analyst for Sikorsky Aircraft in Shelton, Connecticut.

 

Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin company, have been pioneers of flight solutions since 1923. “Together with Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky delivers an unwavering commitment to helping its clients to succeed,” reveals Meraz.

 

Turning his attention back to maritime industry innovation, Meraz looks toward autonomous ships for his first point. “Next generation vessels with no onboard crew, autonomous ships will instead be commanded from on-shore operating centers,” reveals the retired Marine Corps Staff Sergeant. After being stationed in Japan early on in his decades-long military career, Meraz was transferred to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, before serving in Iraq, including one tour with a marine expeditionary unit and air-ground task force during 2007 and 2008.

 

“So-called ‘shore masters’ and engineers will, instead, monitor and control the navigation and performance of their vessels via high-resolution cameras, sensors, other detectors, and advanced satellite communication systems,” he adds.

 

Similarly, Meraz also points toward drone innovation as another burgeoning maritime industry field. “Drone innovation, too, is big business in the marine sphere,” he reveals.

 

Although, says Meraz, the use of drones within the marine sector is by no means new, the range of applications for such technology has grown dramatically in recent years. “Accordingly, the value of the industry, as it relates to the marine environment, has increased massively,” he adds.

 

Lastly, Meraz touches on firefighting robots. “Shipping companies, in particular, have recognized the significance of robots in their practices and operations for many years,” he explains, “with firefighting robots among the more recent and potentially most vital and revolutionary innovations.”

 

“Such robots, for example,” Meraz continues, “are adding a new magnitude to modern maritime business practices, both cutting costs, and mitigating safety concerns.”

 

Indeed, autonomous firefighting robots have been touted as ideal to both control damage and carry out the safe inspection of fires and fire damage sustained onboard all manner of naval operations across the globe. “Furthermore,” reveals Meraz, “such robots will further aid, rather than replace, human firefighters in a wide variety of applications both on land and at sea.”

 

“Such innovation, I believe,” he adds, wrapping up, “will drive efficiency, improve operations, and create savings across all facets of the maritime sector and much further afield.”

 

Raised in El Paso, Texas, and Dodge City, Kansas, retired U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Heber Alonzo Meraz is a keen marathon runner, former Toys for Tots project coordinator, neighborhood safety events organizer, and the recipient of both an American Red Cross Lifesaving Award and a State of Connecticut General Assembly official citation for lifesaving. Today, Meraz happily resides in the Fairfield County town of Trumbull, Connecticut, close to the cities of Bridgeport and Shelton, and the towns of Fairfield, Stratford, Monroe, and Easton.

Heber Alonzo Meraz Reveals Health Benefits of Running

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Heber Alonzo Meraz reveals a number of the many health and other benefits of running.

 

Heber Alonzo MerazA retired the United States Marine Corps Staff Sergeant and former project coordinator for the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program, keen marathon runner and Texas-native Heber Alonzo Meraz offers a closer look at his passion for the sport and reveals several of the many health and well-being benefits of taking up running.

 

“Not only is running one of the best ways to stay in shape, both physically and mentally, it’s also among the most convenient and affordable ways to exercise,” suggests Meraz, who’s currently based in Fairfield County, Connecticut.

 

Though simple, running has been shown to be chief among cardiovascular exercises and activities, benefiting almost every part of the human body, including blood pressure, heart health, lung function, joint strength, and muscle endurance.

 

“From a mental health perspective, running has also been demonstrated to make participants feel less stressed, calmer, and more able to enjoy a restful sleep at night,” reveals Meraz.

 

According to the keen marathon runner, unlike more strenuous, often gym-focused forms of exercise and keeping fit, running can be enjoyed by almost anyone, including distance running, sprinting, and jogging. “Almost anyone can enjoy the sport,” Meraz explains, “from gentle jogging to racing and marathon running, reflecting an activity which can truly be incorporated into essentially any healthy lifestyle, regardless of fitness levels, and perhaps even starting simply with regular, short, brisk walks around the local park.”

 

Further to the affordability, convenience, and positive effects upon general fitness and well-being, Meraz next turns his attention to the many other health and wider benefits of running. “For starters, it’s largely very straightforward,” he suggests, “and as long as proper form is maintained, there’s not much to learn in order to safely take up running.”

 

“Furthermore,” Meraz continues, “in addition to improving joint strength, muscle endurance, heart health, lung function, and lowering blood pressure, it’s a great way to either lose weight or to maintain a healthy weight in the long term.”

 

Running, Meraz goes on to explain, also boosts serotonin levels in the brain, providing feelings of wellness and well-being above and beyond simple, physical health, and in addition to improving bodily functions, such as those tied to the heart and lungs. “The sport has also been shown,” he adds, “to strengthen bones, which becomes increasingly important as we age, and can help to prevent against problems in this area later in life.”

 

Lastly, Meraz touches on the social aspect of running. “Find a running partner, and not only can it become something of social activity, but you’re also encouraging someone else to improve their health and well-being while doing the same for yourself.”

 

“What’s more,” he adds, wrapping up, “with a regular running buddy, you’re able to provide motivation for one another, making it easier to stay on track and helping both of you to reach your fitness goals together, and in no time at all.”

 

Heber Alonzo Meraz is set to run the Hartford Marathon later this year. To be held in and around the oasis of Bushnell Park in the heart of the city of Hartford, Connecticut, this October, for more information, head to https://www.hartfordmarathon.com/.

Heber Alonzo Meraz

Heber Meraz shares career highlights following 20 years active duty Marine Corps service

Connecticut-based Heber Alonzo Meraz offers a closer look at his personal and professional accolades.

As he prepares to run this year’s Hartford Marathon, retired U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Heber Meraz reflects on 20 years active duty service and shares more about his American Red Cross Lifesaving Award, State of Connecticut General Assembly Official Citation, and work as project coordinator for the United States Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.

A retired U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant, Heber Alonzo Meraz grew up in El Paso, Texas, and Dodge City, Kansas, joining the Marine Corps in 1994, out of El Paso. “I was stationed in Japan for the first year,” he reveals, “then transferred to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina.”

Meraz served one tour in Iraq, and a second tour with a Marine expeditionary unit between 2007 and 2008. Marine expeditionary units are air-ground task forces in the United States Fleet Marine Force. “An expeditionary quick reaction force, Marine expeditionary units are deployed and ready for immediate response to any crisis, whether it be a natural disaster or a combat mission,” Meraz reveals.

During his 20 years active duty service, Heber Alonzo Meraz received an American Red Cross Lifesaving Award for saving the life of an individual who was choking. For saving the life of the woman, Meraz also received a State of Connecticut General Assembly Official Citation. “I’m immensely proud,” he says, “of both my American Red Cross Lifesaving Award and the subsequent State of Connecticut General Assembly Official Citation.”

Meraz also served as coordinator for the United States Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program in 2010, 2011, and 2012. “The Toys for Tots program was founded in the 1940s by reservist Major Bill Hendricks,” he explains, “and, to this day, aims to deliver, via a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less-fortunate youngsters which will assist them in becoming productive, responsible, and patriotic citizens.”

Since its inception, the United States Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program has successfully distributed more than half-a-billion new toys to around 250 million less-fortunate children throughout the country at Christmastime.

Following his retirement as a U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant, today, Heber Meraz is a senior analyst with Sikorsky Aircraft in Shelton, Connecticut. He also boasts a keen community spirit, regularly organizing and hosting local neighborhood safety and lifesaving events in and around both Shelton and his nearby current place of residence, the Fairfield County town of Trumbull.

Furthermore, Meraz is a keen marathon runner, set to take part in this year’s Hartford Marathon. To be held this October, the event is already hotly anticipated by runners, families, charities, and volunteers in the capital of Connecticut and surrounding areas. “There’s a positive experience and a suitable distance waiting for all parties at the Hartford Marathon, including a 5K race,” Meraz suggests, wrapping up, “as everyone comes together in the heart of Connecticut for a truly unique and inspiring event.”

Heber Alonzo Meraz - American Red Cross Lifesaving Awards Achievement

Heber Alonzo Meraz Looks Back on American Red Cross Lifesaving Awards Achievement

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Heber Alonzo Meraz reflects on his American Red Cross Lifesaving Award and other achievements.

 

Heber Alonzo MerazProject coordinator, senior analyst, and retired United States Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Heber Alonzo Meraz looks back on his American Red Cross Lifesaving Award and other achievements, and reveals more about his keen community spirit, neighborhood safety events, and work with the Toys for Tots program.

 

American Red Cross Lifesaving Awards are issued annually from the American Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C. All nominees for the organization’s national awards are also entered into the pool of nominations for their local chapter’s annual American Red Cross Heroes event, such as the so-called ‘Breakfast of Champions.’

 

Heber Alonzo Meraz received his own American Red Cross Lifesaving Award in 2010 for saving the life of an individual who was choking. For saving the life of the woman, a resident of Fairfield, Connecticut, he also received a State of Connecticut General Assembly Official Citation.

 

“I’m immensely proud,” Meraz reveals, “of both my American Red Cross Lifesaving Award and the subsequent State of Connecticut General Assembly Official Citation.”

 

A retired United States Marine Corps Staff Sergeant, Meraz became a member of the U.S. Armed Forces in 1994 and went on to complete 20 years active duty service. Today a project coordinator and senior analyst with Sikorsky Aircraft in Shelton, Connecticut, Meraz also boasts a keen community spirit, regularly hosting local events in and around both Shelton and nearby Trumbull where he currently lives.

 

“One event which I host every year now is our annual neighborhood safety event, here in Trumbull, which is focused on teaching children in the community about cardiopulmonary resuscitation, better known as CPR, as well as fire safety and prevention, and how to recognize choking hazards,” the retired U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant explains.

 

Raised between El Paso, Texas, and Dodge City, Kansas, Heber Alonzo Meraz is also a keen marathon runner and is heavily involved with Toys for Tots, for which he served as project coordinator for three years in 2010, 2011, and 2012. “Toys for Tots is an incredible program,” he adds, “run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve which distributes toys to children whose parents are unable to afford to buy them gifts at Christmastime.”

 

The mission of the United States Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program, founded in 1947 by reservist Major Bill Hendricks, is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November, and December each year, before distributing those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community. The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity located in Triangle, Virginia, which serves to fund, raise funds for, and support the United States Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program. For more information, head to https://www.toysfortots.org/.

 

To learn more about the American Red Cross Lifesaving Awards, meanwhile, please visit https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/lifesaving.

Heber Alonzo Meraz reflects on work with United States Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program

Heber Alonzo Meraz

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant and former Toys for Tots coordinator Heber A. Meraz reveals more about the Christmastime charitable toy distribution program.

A program run by the United States Marine Corps Reserve, Toys for Tots distributes toys to children whose parents are unable to afford to buy them gifts at Christmas. A retired U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant, Heber Alonzo Merazreflects on his work with the organization for which he served as project coordinator for three years between 2010 and 2012.

“The mission of the program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November, and December each year, before distributing those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community,” reveals former Toys for Tots program coordinator Meraz.

“The Toys for Tots program was founded in 1947 by reservist Major Bill Hendricks,” explains Meraz, who was coordinator for the project in 2010, 2011, and 2012, “and, to this day, aims to deliver, through a new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to less-fortunate youngsters which will assist them in becoming responsible, productive, and patriotic citizens.”

Initially established solely as a Los Angeles-based and focused charitable effort, the program’s first event, under then-coordinator Lieutenant Colonel John Hampton, collected more than 5,000 toys for local children from collection bins placed outside Warner Bros. movie theaters across the city. “Such was the success of the program’s first Christmas,” Meraz adds, “that, the following year, Toys for Tots was launched as a national campaign.”

Celebrity support quickly ensued, while Walt Disney Studios designed the organization’s red toy train logo. “A while later,” former project coordinator Meraz reveals, “a theme song for Toys for Tots was written by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster, which was then recorded by Nat King Cole, Jo Stafford, and Peggy Lee, among several other big names.”

“Today, and since its inception,” he adds, wrapping up, “the United States Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program has successfully distributed more than 530 million toys to over 244 million less-fortunate children throughout the country at Christmastime.”

Heber Alonzo Meraz is a retired U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant. Raised in El Paso, Texas, and Dodge City, Kansas, Meraz joined the Marine Corps in 1994 and went on to complete 20 years active duty service. Today a senior analyst with Sikorsky Aircraft in Shelton, Connecticut, Heber A. Meraz boasts a keen community spirit, regularly hosting local events in and around both Shelton and nearby Trumbull where he currently resides. A keen marathon runner and the recipient of an American Red Cross Lifesaving Award, events hosted by Meraz include the annual ‘Neighborhood Safety Event’ focused on teaching children in the area about CPR, fire safety and prevention, and recognizing choking hazards.

The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public charity located in Triangle, Virginia, which serves to fund, raise funds for, and support the United States Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program. To learn more, or to make a donation, please visit https://www.toysfortots.org/.