Sixth year of annual run to raise funds and awareness provides special moments for Lansing's Denise Becker and her family

Denise Becker (center) of Lansing pictured with her two daughters, Jessica Verdon (left) and Jennifer Becker (right), and two grandchildren following participation in the Chicago Rock and Roll Half-Marathon July 19. Becker and her family raised over $8,000 through the event to help promote awareness of how Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injuries affect returning military service members. Submitted photo.

Denise Becker of Lansing and her daughters, Jessica Verdon and Jennifer Becker, ran their sixth annual Chicago Rock and Roll Half-Marathon Sunday, July 19. Not only did they run the half-marathon this year, but they also took the remix challenge and ran a 5K race the previous day, Saturday July, 18.
Every year Denise Becker and her daughters run in the event to raise awareness of how Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) affect returning service members. "Every day we lose approximately 22 service members to suicide related to PTSD/TBI, running 13.1 miles seems the least we can do to keep these disorders in the forefront," Becker said.
This year the run was extra special because the mother-daughters trio had a few extra runners with them. Erin Liebelt of Eau Claire, WI, her sister, Jenna Starck of Chicago, IL, along with a close friend, Jennifer Wright of Durham, NC, ran alongside Becker and her daughters in honor of their brother, Shaun Starck, who lost his battle with PTSD five years ago on the date of the run, July 19, at the age of 26.
This year the group raised $4,065, and with the annual match from Becker Electric the total raised was $8,130. These funds are all from community donations and will be used to help veterans struggling with these disorders. Thunder Rode in Decorah will be one beneficiary of the funds. That organization provides therapeutic horseback riding to service members and can be further researched at
Another beneficiary of that fundraising will be Warrior Hike, which is a "walk off the war" program consisting of service members who embark on an adventurous hike on several different well-known trails, such as the Appalachian Trail. Participating service members are able to spend time with other veterans and talk to those who are struggling as well, while healing and attempting to let go of the effects of the war. Visit for more information or to sign up a veteran.
Liebelt will be giving her donations to a homeless veteran's shelter in her hometown of Eau Claire, WI, where she now lives with her husband and daughter, Gabby.
The highlight of the run for the local trio this year was watching three-year-old Caleb Verdon, son of Jessica Verdon, run the last tenth of a mile of both Saturday's and Sunday's races with his grandmother, Denise Becker. He received a medal for both days.