QUINCY – Darin Thomas introduced himself as the co-founder, with his wife, of the organization PHAST. PHAST stands for Promoting Health and Service Together, and Thomas said the program was born while he was finishing medical school.
Thomas is actually Dr Darin Thomas, DO, from Blessing Hospital. But he didn’t use his title to introduce himself. Because, as the name of his organization suggests, his motivation is to help others rather than to promote himself.
On Saturday morning, Thomas, his wife Shannon, their children and a contingent of medical students from Kirksville who are part of the Association of Military Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons (AMOPS) were tending to the Veterans Garden behind the Methodist Church. United of Vermont Street. The church donated the garden for the use of Veggies for Vets, created by Deborah Whitaker. Whitaker uses the garden to teach veterans how to grow some of their own food, and then provides them with seeds so they can start their own garden. Saturday’s efforts were a collaboration between these three groups.
“I came to church to bring my daughter for violin lessons and saw the garden and thought it would be a great addition to our run,” said Thomas. “[Deborah]helped her husband with some health issues so when I called her she told me they were going to St. Louis and she was trying to weed and prepare the garden but she didn’t Did not have time . So here we are. “
The Veterans Garden was the 20th stage of the “1MPH Marathon”, which the group nicknamed the “Heart of the World Race”, providing service to the community with a fitness side for the participants.
“It’s a 24 hour race,” said Thomas. “So what we do is run about a mile to a specific place in town, and then we spend an hour doing a community service project. At the start of the hour, we run about a mile to another location and do it again. And we do it for 24 hours straight.
This year’s event was the second in Quincy, starting at 5 p.m. on Friday and ending by the riverside at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Thomas said they will go anywhere and everywhere they can go in that 24 hour period.
“We cleaned the streets,” he says, “we helped retirement homes, we cut wood for a man who heats his house with wood. Last night we played night games in Washington Park and then picked up all around the park. We told bedtime stories at an orphanage in Belize, we built a doghouse for one of the local animal shelters. We just want to do things.
Some of the races are a little over a mile, so by the end of the event the cumulative distance will reach 26.2 miles for a full marathon.
In a post on the PHAST Foundation Facebook page, Thomas explained where the Foundation’s seeds as well as the race were planted.
“I started it during my time in medical school,” the post read, “where it was incredibly easy, and almost necessary, to be in a self-centered survival mode. I had that mindset, I found out when I thought like that, that I was really unhappy and, I think, unhealthy. It had to change. I also knew that if I had that mindset, many others might as well.
“After tons of brainstorming and planning, I decided to combine two of my passions, health and service, and run a race that promoted these two ideas. PHAST was born.
The PHAST Foundation is a 501 © 3 recognized organization that hosts many events throughout the year. To learn more about these events, the organization as a whole, and to find ways to help, please visit thephast.com.