Captain Ivan Castro is an officer in the United States Army Special Forces. Capt. Castro is also blind having lost his vision in 2006 while serving in Iraq. Despite his injuries, he has remained on active duty with the Army. After his injuries, he leveraged his background in athletics to heal and motivate himself, “I needed to get back in shape; physically and mentally.” Castro also felt the need to give back and honor the soldiers that he had served with that gave their lives, “The same mortar round that took my sight killed two guys … I am grateful for what I have and do not dwell on what I have lost. I have been given a second chance. I lived. I have to pay it forward.”
With that attitude of positivity and gratitude in mind, Castro founded the Special Operators Challenge. He said the idea for the event came to him from, “love of athletics, love of fitness, love of trying to help the community” and his goal for the challenge is to “do something to honor our men and women in uniform: military, fire fighters, law enforcement. “
On Saturday, May 31, at the Carolina Horse Park in Raeford, Castro will host the Special Operators Challenge. He describes it as something “where the community can come out and enjoy an event together … an athletic event where parents and kids come out and participate together.”
The challenge will have three events for participants to join and compete in: The Little Muddy in lengths for kids ages 5-17, an adults only fun run called The Boomerang, and the 10k main event called The Muddy Nick. The 10 a.m. wave of the Muddy Nick will consist of 15 two-person teams with the fastest team winning a matching pair of shotguns.
Completing any of the races entitles participants to a moisture-wicking race T-shirt, a race medal, and a raffle entry for the chance to win prizes that include a shotgun, sunglasses, a parachute jump experience, massage certificates, art work, bicycles and others.
The event will also be an opportunity for participants and spectators to give back. A portion of the registration fee will be donated to a nonprofit organization that the participant chooses. The various charities will be on-site to provide information. There will also be a drive to collect food, clothing and toys to donate to needy families in the area.
In addition to all of the competitive events and opportunities to give, participants and spectators have access to free eye exams, an opportunity to become American Heart Association CPR certified, and presentations from the FBI about making an identification kit for children.
Also appearing at the event will be fire trucks from the Pine Hill Volunteer Fire Department and the All Veterans Parachute Team, which will also be jumping in with the flag at the start of the event.
Castro invites local businesses out for the day as well, “If they want to put up a tent and promote their business, they are welcome.” He also expressed a need for volunteers to step forward to help pass out T-shirts and medals, to help with the course and to pass out water.
If you are interested in volunteering, the team-run of the Muddy Nick, the CPR certification or in securing a table and tent for your business, email SpecialOperatorsChallenge@gmail.com for more information.
Registration for the various races is conducted through www.Active.com; search for Special Operators Challenge.