In a world where people often perceive age as a limitation, one man has shattered the boundaries of what’s possible. At the age of 80, Stan Cottrell is not just running; he’s on a mission to change the world, one stride at a time. His incredible journey is a testament to the human spirit’s boundless potential for greatness.
Stan Cottrell is a USMC veteran whose life story is a symphony of resilience, hope and unwavering determination. From the very beginning, Cottrell’s days start with an unshakable belief in his own ability to win. He carries with him a cherished motto, a gift from his mother that has guided him throughout his remarkable journey.
Stan and friends in Kentucky
“‘Lord, I’m reporting for duty,’ my Mama would say,” Cottrell recalls. “And on the last day of her life, on that final morning, she said it for the last time.”
For Cottrell, age is nothing but a number, a mere label that he refuses to let define him. He firmly believes that too many people limit themselves based on society’s expectations. Labels, whether self-imposed or externally imposed, can dictate our actions and beliefs. In Cottrell’s eyes, there are no neutral moments in life; we’re either positive, hopeful and expectant or we’re not.
Stan and friends in Poland
As Stan Cottrell embarks on his 77th ultra distance run and 44th year of running for causes greater than himself, his story becomes an anthem of purpose. Two years ago, he completed his third jaw-dropping 100-day run across the entire United States, covering 30 miles a day. Over the past 76 years, he has run a staggering 283,000 miles.
His most recent endeavor, “Home Run for Veterans,” is a rallying cry for veterans suffering from PTSD. Cottrell’s connection to this cause runs deep, as he recalls family members who endured the aftermath of World War II without the understanding of PTSD. “When I was growing up, people called these symptoms ‘shell shock,'” Cottrell added.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a real disorder that develops when a person has experienced or witnessed a scary, shocking, terrifying or dangerous event. These stressful or traumatic events usually involve a situation where someone has faced life-threatening situations or a severe injury has occurred.
Stan Cottrell has joined ranks with the Gene Birdwell Foundation to support their book; “Military Sexual Trauma” (MST). This monumental manual showcases a myriad of causative agents leading to an all-encompassing world called PTSD.
The mission of the Birdwell Foundation is to decrease and eliminate veteran and first responder suicide by providing a community of support from fellow warriors who have found their way out of the darkness through a healing process that equips them to be now reared and ready to teach and provide to others. “No one can pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. We need each other.” Cottrell added.
RUNNING A MARATHON A DAY
“Home Run for Veterans” is such an attraction magnet,” Cottrell explains. “I’m honored to do my part — running a marathon a day for 39 days — 1,024 miles total beginning March 15th throughout Georgia to bring light where only darkness has long been the norm.”
Stan Cottrell’s 1,024-mile run is for the benefit and awareness of veterans suffering from PTSD and the issue of 24 veterans each day that commit suicide. Cottrell plans on visiting with as many veterans as possible as he runs to 9 Georgia-based military bases.
Finishing run in DeNang, Vietnam
His dedication to this cause, especially at the age of 80, is truly inspiring. By running a marathon distance every day and including all the military bases in Georgia in his route, he is not only raising awareness but also paying tribute to the sacrifices made by veterans.
Stan Cottrell’s heart also extends to the less fortunate, as he has witnessed both the grandeur of the White House and the struggles of those living in poverty. He has run through third-world countries, raising funds to provide coats and shoes for children facing winter without adequate clothing.
“I was one of those children who didn’t have a coat for winter,” Cottrell reflects. “I know what it’s like to wait for a pair of shoes until tobacco sales time.”
UNIFYING THE WORLD
Yet, Cottrell’s journey is not just about personal achievement; it’s about transformation and the power of the human spirit to soar beyond limitations. His life began with adversity, as he faced ridicule at the age of 12 for his small stature. But on that summer day in 1955, when he won a 100-yard dash running barefoot at the county fair, he discovered his gift and theme for the rest of his life.
A stranger’s encouraging words ignited a spark within him: “You sure are little, but those legs of yours sure can fly. Why, you might just grow up and be a champion someday.” Cottrell reflects this was a significant marker in his life.
Four years later, Cottrell received an unexpected scholarship opportunity, which led to his college education. But that was just the beginning of his extraordinary journey. Running in 43 countries, the Great Wall of China, and coast to coast three times in the United States, he became a symbol of hope and unity, drawing crowds of 100,000 or more in countries like Korea, Bulgaria, China, and Vietnam.
LIFE CHANGING EXPERIENCE
Every step of Cottrell’s journey reinforces a message of hope, purpose, and unity. He believes every person has a unique mission, a divine decree to fulfill. His gift for running became his vessel to inspire, unite, and bring about change.
Stan running in China
As he continues challenging himself, Cottrell imparts wisdom to future runners and individuals seeking a healthier lifestyle. His message is simple yet profound: movement is life. Almost 70% of the U.S. population is overweight, and Cottrell urges people to start with small steps.
“Get yourself a good pair of walking shoes and just start moving,” he advises. “Fitness should never be a punishment; it should be a nourishment for your body.”
Stan Cottrell’s life is a testament to the limitless potential of the human spirit. His age is merely a number, and he believes there are no limits to what one can achieve. As he reflects on his remarkable journey, he leaves us with a powerful truth:
“And my life has just begun at 80 years old. Where are the limits? They don’t exist. It’s time to salute the Veterans!”
Stan Cottrell’s call is for everyone to join this cause by using their influence, resources, talents, and prayers as a rallying cry to stand in solidarity with veterans and work towards a better future for them. Let’s support this noble endeavor and help make a difference in the lives of those who have served our nation.
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