For the second straight year, Eva Casale is setting out to run seven marathons in seven days on Long Island to raise money for veterans.
In attempting the 184-mile feat again, Casale, 52, of Glen Cove had the chance to create more special routes through communities that have lost service members.
“Last year, it was just the beginning of us putting this together to honor our troops, veterans and fallen heroes,” she said in an interview Friday night. “There were many places we wanted to do a route and others we wanted to honor, but just couldn’t fit in.”
Casale stepped off the marathon series Saturday morning in Huntington, where she was joined by nearly 30 other runners. She left the starting line at the Elks Lodge dressed in red, white and blue after a 9 a.m. opening ceremony.
Saturday’s two-part route was designed to honor Gold Star families and Marine Cpl. Christopher G. Scherer of East Northport, who was killed in Iraq on July 21, 2007. Casale wound through a 19-mile course that stretched from Huntington to Fort Salonga, then notched an 8-mile loop in Northport.
New marathons this year include ones in Sound Beach, Miller Place and on Shelter Island. Air Force Staff Sgt. Louis Bonacasa of Coram, who died in Afghanistan in 2015, will be among those honored.
Casale, information technology vice president for Suffolk Federal Credit Union, said she and her team decided to move back the events. Last year’s runs, held at the beginning of April, were plagued by cold weather and the occasional spell of sleet.
“A lot of people prayed for better weather,” she said.
Casale has run 57 full marathons and 38 ultramarathons — races stretching beyond the traditional 26 miles — since 2006. She’s long had an interest in supporting veterans through her running and so organized a network of supporters under what she calls Team EVA — Every Veteran Appreciated.
The team raised $40,000 for Hope for the Warriors, a Virginia-based charity that aids post-9/11 service members and their families, during the marathon week in 2016, and Casale aims to double that amount this year.
Besides asking for donations, she is urging residents in communities along the routes to show their support.
“We’re asking all the communities to display their American flags, if they can put their flags out,” she said. “I’m very excited.”