Neosho Christian School held its Spring Benefit Banquet on Saturday, April 21, at the Civic, to a sold out crowd.

Neosho Christian School held its Spring Benefit Banquet on Saturday, April 21, at the Civic, to a sold out crowd.
After the dinner and silent auction, Eric McElvenny, gave the keynote speaker.
McElvenny is a former Marine Corps infantry officer who was wounded during combat operations in Afghanistan in 2011, where he had stepped on an IED and lost part of his right leg. This challenge and opportunity led to his new goal of running an Ironman Triathlon. He is now an endurance athlete who shares his journey from military to the finish line. He travels across the country to share habits and tools to overcome obstacles while embracing life’s challenges. When not competing or sharing inspiration, he  can be found in Pittsburgh, Penn., with his wife and three children.
Prior to McElvenny speaking, he also participated in the annual Neosho Dogwood Run that day.
"It is an absolute honor for me to be here," he said in his opening remarks. "One because of this school, and how it impacts not only individuals, but families and the whole community."
He started off his speech by telling the people about his running in the Ironman Triathlon, in Hawaii.
"I was in 133 miles into a race, if you are not familiar with what it (Ironman Triathlon) is, I describe it as a 'long day,'" he said. "You swim 2.4 miles, then you ride your bike 112 miles, and then you run a marathon, 26.2 miles. It is a 140.6 total and I was 133 into it, I am already done with the swim... done with the bike ride, it was a challenging bike ride."
He said it was sunny in Hawaii and he forgot to wear sunscreen.
"Now 19 miles into the run, only 7 miles and some change left, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but I can not see that light," he said. "I am in physical pain, my body hurt.... my left foot hurt, my right foot - totally nothing (because he has a prosthetic around the kneecap). In my head, I said, 'should I stop and see what is going on.' When you are running a race that takes an entire day, you have a good job to fueling your body, taking in enough calories, fluid... At 19 miles, I ran out of energy. I sat down on the side of the road."
He then ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. After a few minutes, he realized he was really comfortable.
"I grabbed my leg, tried to put it on and it doesn't fit," McElvenny said. "My leg was swollen. I asked myself two questions, 'how did I get myself into this? Then the next question, 'who would do more than one of these things?'
This was his first attempt on running an Ironman.
"At that point and time, there were a lot of positive things in my life," he said. "I was alive, I was in Hawaii, my wife and at that time, my two daughters were supporting me, my parents were there, and I was competing in a sport... The blessings that I had to get to that point, the opportunities that God gave me, it was amazing. not everyone runs a Ironman, but everyone experiences challenges."
McElvenny stopped for a few and talked about his experience in Afghanistan and how he was wounded by the IED, his recovery and then went back to talking about the race.
While sitting down on the race course, he said to himself, "I am going to finish this race."
He got his leg and jammed it on, it went enough.
"It wasn't fully on, but at this point, I could do one thing at a time," he said. "I could not focus on the finish line, but I could do one thing at a time. I stood up, started walking and the next thing I knew, that leg was on - it hurt - but it was on again."
He said in a marathon that every mile there is a aid station where runners can get some water or orange slices and to take a break if they needed to.
"In my head, I said, 'I have to get to the next aid station,'" McElvenny said. "Then when I got there, I replenished and took off for the next one. ...the next thing that I know, I am on my final mile. It was so cool, people were lining the streets, cheering, and I took off running. I ran that last mile faster than any mile that day, it was like a 7 minute mile pace. I came busting across that finish line. It was 11 hours, 54 minutes and coming across the finish line it felt so good."
After crossing the finish line, he told the audience that he answered the two questions he set aside when he was sitting on the side of the road.
"How did I get myself into this? It was 22 months from when I was injured to getting out there," he said. "In those 22 months, I grew, I matured, it was an amazing, amazing journey where God was there throughout, providing strength."
The second question dealt with who would ever do more than one of these Ironman competitions.?
"Well immediately after the race, I was thinking to myself, 'I think that I could go faster,'" McElvenny said. "I have done seven Ironman's now. It has been hard, but it has been awesome. having that goal helps me push forward."
In closing, he talked about a question and answer talk he gave to a school once. One of the questions is, "if you could go back to that day you were injured, what would you change?"
"I said, 'I probably would not have step there, because that hurt (talking about where the IED was)," he said. "But then I thought about it, I realize if I had to go back what I would change, I would not change anything. I would not want to go through that pain again, but I would because that was the journey. That happened and because of that, my eyes were open to a lot of things. One, I recognized my priorities, I realized when I think back to my injury, when I thought there was a chance that I as dying for a couple of a few seconds, there are two things that went through my head: going to Heaven and then my family. I realize those are the two things that I think about when I think I might be dying that was the two most important things in life. I asked myself, 'am I living for my priorities: my faith and my family."
McElvenny added, "what are your priorities? You probably know what your priorities are, but you can ask yourself, are you living according to those priorities?"