The day before Memorial Day weekend in 1997, Marine First Lieutenant Robert Straw was on a routine mission to pick up a helicopter in Texas and fly it to North Carolina. Tragically, the Cobra crashed, killing Lieutenant Straw and his co-pilot. Left behind were his wife Mindi, who was pregnant with their son Seth, and their two-year-old daughter Molli.
As the 20th anniversary of Robert’s death approached, Mindi knew exactly what she wanted to do to commemorate it and remember her late husband. “After Robert died, I volunteered with NMCRS at Camp Pendleton to stay connected with the military,” Mindi explained. When she moved her family to Pensacola, Florida, Mindi continued volunteering with the NMCRS Pensacola office. “I enjoyed it but, after a few years, I realized I needed to get back to work.”
Meanwhile, Mindi had started running to stay fit. “I’m a big believer in staying active,” she said. “Once you stop moving, that’s when things start to fall apart.” She’s also a registered dietitian and promotes youth fitness, so health is paramount to her. Gradually, she shifted from being a casual runner to completing 5K races then to running marathons and triathlons. She has run at least a hundred races of varying lengths and finished more than 50 triathlons, ranging from a sprint to Iron Man distance—which includes a 2.4-mile swim and a 112-mile bike ride, finishing with a 26.2-mile marathon.
Mindi prefers triathlons to marathons, but has long planned on running the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) to honor her late husband. “I ran the Boston Marathon in 2014. I was in Boston as a spectator the year of the bombing and I was determined to run the following year. The MCM is the only other marathon on my bucket list.”
Although her regular fitness regimen keeps Mindi in shape, she will have to train for October’s MCM. “I turn 50 this year,” she said. “It’s going to be hard. In Pensacola, our hottest time of the year is July, August, and September, so I’ll be doing my long runs in pretty hot weather. But everyone I know who has done it says it’s a fabulous race. This is my heartfelt race. My husband is buried in Arlington Cemetery, so it will be nice to be close by, as the race starts and finishes there.”
Because she lives near Naval Air Station Pensacola and uses military health care and other benefits, Mindi still feels closely connected to the military. Her children, both enrolled in college, receive NMCRS scholarships. So when she thought about running the MCM she knew she wanted to be part of the Society’s team. Mindi hopes to raise $5,000 to $10,000 for the Society. “The Marine Corps Marathon means something to me, and the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society means something to me, so I’m hoping to raise a lot of money.”
“My fiancé, Evan, is also running the race—he’s on the NMCRS team too. In addition, his sister and brother-in-law heard about us running the MCM and want to run too. I don’t know if we’ll run together or not. Evan is a much faster runner than I am. But it’s my race and I’m doing it for my reasons. Everyone is very supportive.”
Support the NMCRS MCM Team! To donate or join our team, visit www.nmcrs.org/MCMTeam.
By Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso