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Eva Casale running 7 marathons in 7 days for veterans

Eva Casale, front, runs along Ridge Road in

Eva Casale, front, runs along Ridge Road in Ridge on Saturday, April 2, 2016. Casale is attempting to run seven marathons in seven days to raise funds and awareness for Hope for the Warriors. Credit: James Carbone

A Glen Cove woman on Saturday began an attempt to run seven marathons in seven days — covering 183.4 miles — to raise money for programs supporting veterans and their families.

Eva Casale, an experienced long-distance runner, plans to hold each 26.2-mile run in the community of a Suffolk County service member who was killed in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.

“I realized about 10 years ago that I had this ability to run long distances that can be leveraged to bring awareness and raise money for charities and causes that I care about,” said Casale, vice president of information technology at Suffolk Federal Credit Union. “Suffolk County has one of the largest military populations in New York State, and I think it’s important to support our veterans and honor those that have fallen.”

Casale, 50, kicked off the endeavor Saturday morning at a Medford branch of Suffolk Federal, which is sponsoring the event, and finished late in the afternoon in Miller Place, she said.

Casale said rain showers didn’t deter her.

“It was pouring for the first two to three hours and then it lightened up,” she said after finishing the run. “I look at it as a sign from above that the rain is tears of joy from our fallen heroes at what we will accomplish this week.”

Casale will begin each marathon at a different credit union branch and will race past the homes and schools of the fallen service members.

Diana Bonacasa, the mother of Louis Bonacasa, an airman who was killed by a suicide bomber during his fourth tour in the Middle East last December, ran the last mile of the marathon with Casale on Saturday, organizers said.

“I’m running because we want to continue to help the veterans,” Bonacasa of Manorville said before the run. “It’s what Louis would have done. He was so selfless and put everyone before himself.”

Casale said she was also prepared to run despite forecasts of light snow on Sunday.

“Our soldiers have been through a lot worse than the weather and it’s something that I certainly will endure, because it’s temporary,” she said. “I keep them in my heart to help me put one foot in front of the other.”

People are invited to join Casale in the last seven miles of each marathon. Donations can be made via her website, Participants who donate $50 or more will receive a T-shirt and medal provided by the credit union, Casale’s sponsor.

All the funds raised by Casale will go to Hope For The Warriors, a national nonprofit that provides transition support, health and wellness resources, and other assistance for veterans, existing service members and their families.

Casale has run 54 marathons since 2006 and has raised more than $200,000 for charity.

In 2014, Casale ran seven marathons in seven days, raising nearly $30,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The following year she raised another $75,000 in a three-day, 150-mile run from Manhattan to Montauk, Casale said.

With the help of the community, Casale says she hopes to raise $100,000 for Hope For The Warriors.

With Rachel Uda

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