Logging Miles Saved His Life
Run Ranger Run helps Marine survive near-fatal accident.
A broken pelvis bone, two broken leg bones, and collapsed lungs. The family of U.S. Marine Chris Little was put on alert — after being T-boned by a vehicle while riding his motorcycle, Little’s future was uncertain. Little had recently moved to California after coming down on orders for Camp Pendleton; his wife and children were still in North Carolina, the place they called home, finishing out the school year. Beating the odds, Little pulled through, and the doctors were able to salvage his left leg.
Just a few short months prior to the accident, Little participated in Run Ranger Run, the annual fundraiser for GallantFew, logging 565 miles through running and bicycling. Little’s doctor told him that if his lungs had not been in such fine condition from all that cardiovascular activity, the outcome might have been tragically different.
Less than a year later and still recovering from his injuries, Little participated in Run Ranger Run again in February 2018. In previous years, he completed the mission on his own; this time he enlisted friends and family to join him. Since he was still not cleared to run on his injured leg, Little logged approximately 300 miles on a stationary bike. His team, USMC Leadfoot, totaled 919 miles, raising funds for transitioning veterans along the way.
Little first learned about Run Ranger Run and GallantFew from a magazine article in Guns & Ammo’s Combat Arms magazine, which he read while deployed on the USS Wasp. Little was moved by the story of U.S. Army Ranger Cory Smith, who ran and biked the 565 miles from Fort Benning, Georgia, to his home in Indianapolis in 2012.
“He (Smith) felt the need to raise awareness not just for injured or combat-wounded servicemembers, but just the hardships of coming home (from deployment),” Little said. “Life is still going on, but we kind of just put our lives on hold, and then when we come home, everything is different. So we have to assimilate back into the progress that the rest of the world has been making while we have been kind of lying dormant doing our jobs.
“It just kind of struck a guitar string with my heart, and I was like, You know what? That is awesome.”
Though he couldn’t officially participate in that year’s event (2016), he took it upon himself to run on a treadmill and ride a stationary bike for a total of 571 miles in 23 days. The following year he was stateside, but his Run Ranger Run month (February) was truncated by field training.
“I had to cram all this mileage, the 565 miles, into 18 days,” Little said. “I did an insane amount of biking as opposed to running. The last night that I had to do it (log miles) to finish the goal of 565, I think I biked 50 miles that night.”
And despite the near-fatal injuries he sustained prior to the kickoff for Run Ranger Run in 2018, Little still participated aggressively, logging miles and raising funds while his leg was still in recovery.
“At that time, I wasn’t even cleared; I was full-weight bearing, but I wasn’t cleared to run or do high-impact exercise,” he said.
A TRUE LEADER
Chris Little was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, when his father was stationed at Fort Bragg. However, he was raised in Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania. Little joined the Marines in 2008 and credits his father’s “raising us with an iron fist” with his desire to join the military and fast-track his career.
“I have always been a lead-the-fight, get-out-of-my-way kind of guy,” Little said. “Even my seniors, when I first got in the military, I would tell them, ‘Listen, if you don’t want to do your job right, I will take it from you.’ I was always that strong-willed individual … I put myself out there, and the worst thing that could happen is I do a lot more pushups than everybody else does for having the attitude. But the attitude was with my heart in the right place. It was never to be confrontational with people; it’s just I encompassed or embodied the honor, courage, commitment of the Marine Corp, and I took that on my shoulders. I treated it like it was a reality and not a video game. … It’s a real-world thing. It’s real people, it’s real bullets and real injuries.”
During his 10 years in the military, Staff Sergeant Little completed two combat deployments with the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines as a mortarman, as well as two deployments with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
Outside of work, Little enjoys working on cars, listening to music, and spending time with his wife, Katie, and their three children: Stryker (7), Addaleine (5), and Zoe (2).
He is currently expecting to be medically retired due to the injuries he sustained in the 2017 motorcycle accident. While the future of his military career remains uncertain, Little remains devoted to the cause that indirectly saved his life.
“I look forward to participating in Run Ranger Run for many years to come, until there is no breath in my body,” Little said. “It started out as just an event, but it manifested itself into something that I want to be a part of for the long term — I want to do it every year.”
What is particularly moving for Little is how many people he can reach and impact through Run Ranger Run — even if he’ll never meet them. The overall impact that Run Ranger Run and GallantFew makes on the veteran community at-large is what drives Little to continue to log miles and raise funds.
“If you look at it, the world is on fire and the only thing you want to do is look around and see the sun in the morning, breathe the air, watch your kids grow, watch the grass grow — and just understand that life is hard,” Little said. “No one said it would be easy. But there are still people out there that care enough and are willing to help.”
ABOUT RRR AND GALLANTFEW
GallantFew is a veteran assistance nonprofit organization that focuses on helping active duty military personnel transition to civilian life. Founded by former U.S. Army Ranger officer Karl Monger in 2010 with an initial focus on transitioning Rangers, the organization has grown to include specific focus groups, as well as a general category for transitioning veterans who operated outside of those specialized communities. Transitioning veterans (Future Guides) are partnered with a local-to-them veteran (Guide) who has already successfully transitioned out of service and comes from a similar military background. The Guide assists the Future Guide with everything from finding housing and employment to participating in community events that can reconnect them to civilian life.
The fundraiser Run Ranger Run developed out of the actions of 3rd Ranger Battalion veteran U.S. Army Cpl. Cory Smith. With multiple deployments and firsthand experience of friends being killed or wounded in action, Smith wanted to draw attention to the difficulties soldiers face when they return from combat. To do this, he decided to run, walk and bike 565 miles from Fort Benning, Georgia, to his home in Indianapolis during the 28 days in February 2012. GallantFew supported Smith during his mission, and they worked together to develop the annual Run Ranger Run fundraiser. To date, Run Ranger Run has raised more than $1 million dollars.