BENSON – A local military veteran will be holding a charity fundraising event later this week near McGee’s Crossroads. John “T.J.” Blake will be raising funds for Stop Soldier Suicide (SSS).
T.J. will be participating in the David Goggins 4x4x48 challenge in support of SSS. He will run 4 miles every 4 hours for 48 hours. He will be doing this at Shenanigans Taproom on Annette Drive, near McGee’s Crossroads, beginning March 5th and ending on March 7th.
Jose Velez owns Shenanigans Taproom. “We would like to bring as much attention as possible to T.J.’s challenge not only to encourage him but also to bring awareness to and raise funds for SSS.”
The Stop Soldier Suicide organization’s mission is to reduce the Veterans suicide rate. T.J. decided to push his limits and participate in the David Goggins 4x4x48 challenge while continuing to fundraise for SSS. Although this challenge will be taxing on his mind and body, he is eager to raise awareness and give back to his fellow veterans.
T.J. was born in 1976 in Raleigh and grew up in Benson. He attended South Johnston High School. In 1994 he left school early to enlist in the US Navy as an Airman. He was deployed six times. In 2010, he suffered a head injury that ultimately led to two neck surgeries that sidelined his career and resulted in a medical retirement in 2015.
Those surgeries came with complications that left T.J. in constant pain and a multitude of prescription medications. Over time he began to abuse the medications and found himself in a dark place.
Two Veterans that he had never met approached him in a bar, recognizing the path he was on, and offered assistance. Those two Veterans set him on a path to climbing out of the hole he was in. Today, T.J. strives to give back, Vets Helping Vets, and this avenue is through physical fitness with the Stop Soldier Suicide (SSS) organization in Durham, NC.
In May 2020, he participated in his first SSS 30-day 100-mile challenge fundraiser raising $4000. Subsequently, he has moderated multiple 30-day 100-mile challenges for SSS and organized a Charity bike event that raised approximately $4400 for the organization.
To learn more about the March 5th-7th fundraiser or to contribute visit T.J.’s 4x4x48 Challenge for SSS Facebook page.
“When you know that your life has meaning and you live for something, happiness and contentment follow.” – David Goggins
T.J. moved home to Johnston County in 2016 where he resides with his wife and children.