QUINCY — Darin Thomas introduced himself as the co-founder, along with his wife, of the PHAST organization. PHAST stands for Promoting Health And Service Together, and Thomas said the program was born as he was finishing his time at medical school.
Thomas is actually Dr. Darin Thomas, DO, of Blessing Hospital. But he didn’t use his title to introduce himself. Because as the name of his organization suggests, his drive is focused on helping others rather than promoting himself.
Saturday morning, Thomas, his wife Shannon, their children, and a contingent of medical students from Kirksville that are part of the Association of Military Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons (AMOPS) were tending to the Veterans’ Garden behind the Vermont Street United Methodist Church. The church donated the garden for the use of Veggies for Vets, established by Deborah Whitaker. Whitaker uses the garden to teach veterans how to grow some of their own food, and then provides seeds for them to go and start their own gardens. Saturday’s efforts were a collaboration between all three of these groups.
“I came the church to bring my daughter for violin lessons and saw the garden and thought it would be a great addition to our run,” Thomas said. “[Deborah]’s been helping her husband through some health issues, so when I called her, she told me that they’ve been going to St. Louis and she’s been trying to get the garden weeded and ready, but she hadn’t had the time. So here we are.”
The Veterans’ Garden was the 20th stop on the “1MPH Marathon,” which the group dubbed the “World’s Heart-est Race,” bringing service to the community with a side of fitness for the participants.
“It’s a 24 hour race,” Thomas said. “So what we do is run about a mile to a specific location in town, then we spend an hour doing a community service project. At the top of the hour, we run about a mile to a different location and do it again. And we do it for 24 hours straight.”
This year’s event was the second in Quincy, kicking off at 5 p.m. on Friday and wrapping up at the riverfront at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Thomas said they will go anywhere and everywhere they can get to in that 24 hour period.
“We’ve cleaned up streets,” he said, “we’ve helped at nursing homes, we chopped wood for a gentleman that heats his home by wood. Last night we played some night games in Washington Park and then picked up all around the park. We told bedtime stories to an orphanage in Belize, we built a dog house for one of the local animal shelters. We just want to do things.”
Some of the runs are a little more than one mile so, at the end of the event, the accumulative distance will reach 26.2 miles for a full marathon.
In a post on the PHAST Foundation’s Facebook page, Thomas explained where the seeds for the Foundation as well as the race were planted.
“I started it during my time at medical school,” the post reads, “where it was incredibly easy, and almost required, to be in a self-centered survival mode. During this time of me having that mindset, I discovered when I thought like that, I was truly unhappy and, I think, unhealthy. It had to change. I also knew that if I had that mindset many others might also.
“After tons of brainstorming and planning I decided to combine two of my passions, health and service, and put on a race that promoted both those ideas. The PHAST was born.”
The PHAST Foundation is a recognized 501©3 organization that hosts numerous events throughout the year. To learn more about those vents, the organization as a whole, and to find ways to help, please visit thephast.com.