Galion native running for a cause


Galion native Anthony Lee is off on a globe-trotting running tour as he joins team USO (United Service Organizations) to raise funds for American military families.

The 51-year-old’s running career began in Galion as he raced on the high school track team. There, he learned many lessons about the sport — especially pacing.

“There was one cross country meet where I think I ran my opening mile in something like 4:23 and then just basically almost walked the last two miles because I had no idea what I was doing,” Lee said.

Like many children growing up in Galion, Lee spent his time finding ways to entertain himself.

“Back then life was simpler,” Lee said. “The internet didn’t exist. I’d catch crawdads in the creek, go down the slides that would kill you now in Heise Park — you know, all that kind of good ’80s stuff.”

As a teen, Lee decided to focus his attention on running for the Galion High School track team.

“I knew the only way that I was going to go to college was going to be on an athletic scholarship. That’s when I started running,” Lee said.

However, his plans changed at 18 when, after living in Galion his whole life, Lee joined the Air Force in 1990. He was then deployed during Operation Desert Storm. Lee served for 22 years before returning to the private sector where he started his company Zap Mortgage — a successful mortgage lending company.

Lee now lives in Sarasota, Florida, though he comes back to Ohio to visit his children and grandchildren.

Now, as one of his many efforts to give back, Lee is running with team USO to raise money for active-duty service members.

“This is to raise money for all the military members who have served and their families,” Lee explained. “People need to realize we still have troops and people deployed and families need help. The USO’s mission is to help send out care packages to everybody that’s deployed, it’s going to give money to the families that are here stateside while their spouses are away. This one (charity) is close to my heart because for 22 years, I used the USO.”

Aside from providing support for military families, Lee remembers that often the greatest support from the USO came from experiences it provided, such as coordinating shows from the late country star Toby Keith.

“(The show is) a break,” Lee said. “When you’re deployed, you’re not only away from family, you’re getting shot at. And that’s just a good break. Because you’re halfway safe back at the base and you can just be relaxed for a few hours.”

Marathon running is nothing new to Lee. He has already completed over 250 during his running career.

In addition to supporting a worthy cause, Lee’s journey will place him in an elite group of marathon runners. He is one of a group of just 25 who will be running all six marathon majors in just one year.

Completing these six marathons in Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, and New York earns runners the Six Star Medal — a sought after prize in the world of marathon running. Typically, Lee explained, runners reach this goal after decades, but he and 25 others are attempting to win it in just a year.

Lee has already finished the first leg of his race in a Tokyo race that took place in March. Now he is gearing up for the Boston Marathon on April 15.

“I finish Boston on Monday, and then I fly to London on Tuesday and then I race the London Marathon on Sunday,” Lee said.

Along the way, Lee will have family or friends joining him to either cheer him on or run alongside him — sort of.

“There’s one person from a running group I’m going with (in London). He’s way faster though, so we’re not running together,” Lee said with a laugh.

Lee has nearly reached his fundraising goal of $10,000, but he is still taking donations. Overall, he expects his whole team will raise over $100,000 for team USO.

Those who wish to donate can go to and search “Anthony Lee.”

Hannah Bryan is a correspondent for the Galion Inquirer. She can be reached at [email protected].

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