Racing for Charity: Junior Jack Whidden Raises Money for Veterans and First Responders

By Joe Nolan ’20

In his Epistle to the Hebrews, St. Paul wrote, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Hebrews 13:16). Though lacking in length, St. Paul’s advice manifests the code of virtue that we, members of the Roman Catholic Church, are called to live by and carry out: love your neighbor as yourself. Going out of ourselves in order to ensure the comfort and well-being of our neighbors could, at times, be difficult to do. However, the selflessness displayed in these sacrifices goes a long way, both in earthly assistance to others and in our own personal, spiritual fulfillment.

Chaminade High School educates many young men who, without question, are willing to put the needs of others before their own, regardless of the difficulty or consequences involved in doing so. The benevolence of one of these men, Jack Whidden ’20, has resulted in his raising an enormous amount of money for the Force Network Fund, a charitable organization whose proceeds go towards assisting military veterans and first responders.

Jack Whidden crossing the finish line at the Hot Chocolate Run in Seaford, New York on December 1st, 2018.

Operated out of Greenwich, Connecticut, the Force Network Fund is headed by all-star right winger Cam Atkinson of the Columbus Blue Jackets of the National Hockey League. Atkinson has taken great pride in the initiative due to the military and firefighting service of his grandfather, uncle, cousins, and brothers. On the Force Network Fund’s official Facebook page, Atkinson stated, “If I wasn’t playing hockey, I would probably be a member of the U.S. Armed Forces or serving, in some capacity, as a first responder.”

Some of the thirteen charities affiliated with the Force Network Fund include, but are not limited to, the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, the Joint Special Operations Association, Save a Warrior, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, and Fisher Houses.

In order to raise money for the Force Network Fund, Jack encouraged his friends and family members to sponsor him in his racing in the Hot Chocolate Run, an annual 5-kilometer race held in Seaford at the beginning of December; in return, sponsors received official Force Network Fund stickers. On December 1st, 2018, Jack completed the race in 19 minutes and 28 seconds, and by then, he had raised over $1,000 for the charity.

As it so happens, the Blue Jackets were competing against the New York Islanders that night at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Therefore, at the conclusion of the game, Jack got to meet Cam Atkinson, who praised Jack for his efforts at raising money for the fund.

Jack Whidden, right, pictured alongside Columbus Blue Jacket Cam Atkinson.

“I run the Hot Chocolate Run every year, and all of the proceeds from that go towards the Seaford Wellness Center, but this is the first year in which I raised the extra money on my own,” explained Jack. “I am extremely satisfied and excited that I raised the amount of money that I did for the Force Network Fund. It makes me happy to know that the donation made a difference and helped strangers that I will probably never get to meet.”

Jack has expressed his desire to run another race soon in order to raise even more money for the Force Network Fund.

As seen in Jack’s story, helping others doesn’t have to be anything overly extravagant; it can be something as simple as donating to a local food pantry, visiting elders at a nursing home, or raising money to run a race and donate to a charity, just as Jack did. Good deeds like these are what will, ultimately, keep us Catholics in line with our calling from God to ensure the happiness of our neighbors.

For more information about the Force Network Fund, visit the organization’s official website, Facebook, and Instagram.