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The 24 Hour Murph: Army Vet's Murphs Fund Scholarships

Lisa Kelly, Veteran of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, experienced the growing shortage of nurses caring for veterans first hand. So she took action with a grueling “24 Hour Murph” challenge.

Capt. Kelly and Lt. Murphy: The Soldiers' Bond

Lisa Kelly is a U.S. Army Veteran, where she achieved rank as Captain in the Army Nurse Corp. For the last 15 years she has worked as a nurse at the Darnall Army Community Hospital. Through her time there, she has seen the gap between the care veterans need and what they receive grow progressively with the shortage of nurses.

Lt. Mike Murphy was a Navy SEAL, killed in action in Afghanistan in 2005. Murphy sacrificed himself to get to a position where he could radio to get help for remaining men, following an ambush. His actions earned him the Medal of Honor, and an enduring legacy as a heroic figure. In short, he’s a legend amongst servicemembers.

Murphy was known for completing a nearly torturous workout that consisted of a one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups, 300 air squats, and a final one-mile run, performed while wearing a 20lb. tactical weighted vest. He eventually became synonymous with this workout, to the point that it is mostly simply referred to as “The Murph.”

He was a Navy SEAL. Kelly, Army. Their paths never crossed, and likely never would have even if his life was not cut short. And yet, they still hold a bond. “I think that all veterans and current active duty military, no matter what branch, we all kind of have these unique ties,” Kelly explained. “We know that it could have been any of us [to lose our lives] at any given time. It could have been us, a family member, a friend, a comrade.”

24 Hours of Murphs: Honoring a Hero, Earning Scholarships, and a World's First

As a way of honoring his sacrifice, gyms across the country host and participate in The Murph Challenge every Memorial Day. During this year’s events, Kelly pledged to complete a Murph Marathon, 24-hour sports fundraiser. By completing ten Murphs, she earned $5,035 benefitting Educated Angels. The money went towards scholarships for children of veterans who are pursuing careers as educators and nurses.

Kelly could have picked from a myriad of different fundraisers to benefit Educated Angels. But in her heart, she knew it had to be a Murph challenge, as it has become synonymous with honoring those who have passed in the line of duty. “In the past, we didn’t really have these ‘hero’ workouts where we pay homage,” she explained. “That’s really a new phenomena we’re using to raise awareness and prove to people that, just because you’re gone, doesn’t mean you’ll ever be forgotten. It’s a responsibility to those that we have lost along the way.

Murphs for Education

Why Educated Angels as the beneficiary? Part of the inspiration stems from Kelly’s knowledge that there are not enough trained nurses to help those that have already given so much to their country. It also ties back to Murphy.

“A lot of people don’t know he was an avid reader and that education was one of his biggest passions,” Kelly explained. “To be able to stand up and say, ‘listen I’m doing this workout and this is how we’re going to raise this money, as a legacy to him, to see all the good that he could have done, that he no longer gets to do.' We are still here and we are still continuing on your legacy.”

The passion to carry Murphy’s legacy—and in the broader spectrum remind all servicemen and women that they will never be forgotten— drove Kelly to complete a challenge that no woman had done before. There was record of one man in the United Kingtom completing 24 hours of Murphs. But not any women, nor any Americans. Both of those things changed on May 26th, 2019 when Kelly completed ten Murphs in 24 hours.

The training workouts grew in length, but there’s almost no way to truly prepare for 24 hours of Murphs. A lot of it came to mental training; Kelly realized there would be a time when she fell during a squat, or her hands started to bleed from all the pullups. The question was how would she respond?

“The biggest thing with something physical, that seems impossible, is knowing that when it hurts, it will never hurt as much as not being able to do it” Kelly said. “Not waking up the next day, not being there, leaving your family behind. It will never hurt as much as when there is no pain.”

As our first Pledge It Champion, we honor Capt. Kelly’s commitment to remember all who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of their country. And offer her a massive salute, as the world’s first woman in history to complete 24 Hours of Murphs, all to the benefit of Educated Angels.

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Published on January 7, 2020

by Dave Costlow

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