“So Others May Live” –Navy search and rescue saying
Yuma Haidara is in search of those who need saving because she believes in battle:
First, she faced down the desert storms of Afghanistan with the Navy, where she met her friend Jose Romero. It wasn’t an instant friendship: He made it clear that she had to earn her place; she remembers he was hard on her. But she won Jose’s respect; and even after the military, they traveled the world together, conquering summits as far as the Andes.
But tragically Jose’s hidden wounds couldn’t be conquered, and he took his own life.
Yuma’s battle against Veteran suicide started with losing Jose. She ran the NYC and Chicago Marathons in his honor, and she raised awareness for 22-A-Day, which advocates against the loss of 22 veterans a day to suicide. “(For) my amazing friend from the Navy who lost his fight against his invisible wounds. It’s hard not to think that if he knew of this program or had access to it that he’d still be here today.”
It hasn’t always been easy. “By the end of the first mile of the NYC marathon I was already in pain… but told myself it was bearable.” Yuma taped sandals to her feet. And wore them for more than half of the race. “I can’t tell you how shocked people were, I even stopped by a medical tent to tape them to my feet so I’d stop tripping over them. But the tape barely lasted a mile. There was no way I wasn’t finishing this race.”
“I can tell you if I was running for myself I would’ve quit by mile 5 but knowing I was running for not only my friend that I served with, Jose Romero but every Veteran that’s taken their life too soon. I pushed on… I cried so much during this race. I didn’t even know it was possible.”
Yuma isn’t done fighting for veterans like Jose: Her goal is to run all Six Majors Marathons: Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York. She’s already done New York and Chicago.
Apart from her loyalty to her friend and all suffering veterans, she’s also a successful Over the Road truck driver. As a trucker, she battled to get healthy. She took up running to conquer what she sees as a struggle a lot of drivers face.
Today, Yuma is a voice in the athletic sphere, where she’s sponsored by athletic companies to wear their running clothes. She hikes and summits mountains all over the world: her current goal is to get the 48 4,000 foot climbs in her home state. Yuma is a public speaker for events that encourage women to live active, healthy lifestyles.
In a message to her friend Jose, she says, “It was an honor serving/deploying with you and getting to travel the world with you. You were one of my dearest friends and I cherish all our memories. I know it’s too late for you to join this program but I’m hoping these funds save another Veteran’s life who’s currently battling their invisible wounds!”
“One day we’ll end Veteran Suicide.”