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The Man Who Spent $35MM Fighting A $400k Fake Wine Fraud, Rediscovering What I Lost in the Military and Mom and Son Run a Marathon Together in Every State

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
June 16, 2022 3:05 am

The Man Who Spent $35MM Fighting A $400k Fake Wine Fraud, Rediscovering What I Lost in the Military and Mom and Son Run a Marathon Together in Every State

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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June 16, 2022 3:05 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and America’s Cup winner Bill Koch tells us how he fought against fake wine fraud. Brent Evanoff discovers a secret he’d been unaware of for over 25 years and ends up helping another veteran reconnect with something they lost as well. Karen Thomson and her son Joe Meilink along with his wife, Vicky, share how they are the definition of determination. 

Support the show (https://www.ouramericanstories.com/donate)

 

Time Codes:

00:00 - The Man Who Spent $35MM Fighting A $400k Fake Wine Fraud

12:30 - Rediscovering What I Lost in the Military

37:00 - Mom and Son Run a Marathon Together in Every State

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

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Here's Bill. You know, what I really like, if you look at a great painting, you can tell the love the artist did in creating it. And to me, that's precious. And that's what creates, in my opinion, great art. You know, it's the love for what the artist was doing. And then food, too, you know, with an outstanding chef. You can taste that, oh my God, this tastes differently, because he put a lot of love into it, which means he put a lot of energy and thought and everything else into it. And the same with a bricklayer. You know, he really loves his work. He takes a little extra care in doing it, other than slapping it together. And the same thing with wine.

The great wine, she could really taste the love that the vintner had in making it. And so that, to me, is highly offensive when someone is faking it. Bill found out that four bottles that were sold to him as Thomas Jefferson's were fake.

And then he found out that more were, too. There's a huge code of silence, because the faker doesn't want to know that he's faking. The middleman who's selling the wine doesn't really want to know if it's fake. In fact, there was one big auction house that was selling a lot of wine in New York in auctions, and they had to have this retailer deal with them to get through the laws. And the guy who owns the retail shop said, why are you selling a lot of fake wine in this auction? And the head in-house counsel versus the out-house counsel said, authenticity is an opinion. And we're not in the opinion business. We're in the business of making our margin.

So just ignore it. And then the guys who buy the fake wine, if they find out it's fake, they want to get rid of it and get their money back. So primarily they either dump it into the auction market, or they give it to a charity to auction off, or they find some sucker that will buy it. Some of the fake wines I bought were from charity auctions, because the guy gave it to him, and he got a tax deduction on it, and some other schmuck got them. Mainly me.

I got them. And so I just said, I'm out on a crusade. A legal crusade.

To shine a bright light on it. And I also, I guess because when I was younger I was taken advantage of by people when I was naive. And so I said, I just hate being cheated.

Hate it. One of the fakers actually offered to give Bill all of his money back, and Bill said no, we're going to court. That's right. Well, I ended up in one real long lawsuit, which we won hands down, and then after that everybody wanted to settle with me. And there was one guy who said, well, I sold you these fake bottles, would you give them back to me so I could give them back to the guy that sold them to me? And so I said, all right, I will. But then I engraved on the bottles, counterfeit, and gave them back to him.

I haven't heard from him since. One big faker sent me a fax saying, why are you worried about fake wine? Even Jesus turned water into wine.

And I was hoping I could get him into a court in the Bible Belt, but I couldn't. One guy had a huge collection of pre-World War II bottles of Petrus, which is one of the best wines in the world, and oversized bottles. And I bought a bottle of 1921 Petrus in a double magnum, and I opened it up.

God, that tasted like the cheapest wine I've ever had. And I looked at it, and there was an article about this wine, about how it was found and who found it, et cetera, and it was rated 100 out of 100. And I bought this bottle, and what the guy did, the faker, a guy named Hardy Runestock, poured in 1957 wine into the bottle, and he made a fake label. We even found the place where he bought the bottle, and we found where he had the labels printed. And he poured in 1957 wine, put in some juice that made it taste old and smell old.

I said, what he did was put moose piss in it for me. And we took this bottle to Petrus, and they said they never made big bottles pre-1945. And this one guy who had this huge collection of huge bottles called me up and said, are all our bottles fake? And we said, yeah. How do you know?

Well, we went to Petrus, and they said they never made them. And they said, oh, my God. And then a month later, he called up and said, why don't you buy these bottles for me? And I said, why? They said, well, it's good evidence. I said, well, I don't mean to pay you.

I'll just subpoena you. Unfortunately, Crusades turn out to be long and very expensive. Bill has spent $35 million going after the fakers over what was originally a $400,000 wine fraud. And some might say that's a crusade not worth it, spending eighty seven and a half times the cost. But for Bill Koch, it is.

The crusade isn't about the wines. I mean, it's a little bit about the wines, but Bill could have bought new wines for far less. What it's really about to him is the rule of law. And Bill's pursuit of the rule of law ended up exposing an industry of tens of millions of fake wine. I try to say, well, it's bad business to cheat when you get caught.

And great job, as always, by Alex. And thanks to Bill Koch, a rule of law series, because let's face it, sometimes the cops can't get these people and sometimes let's face it, no one else can. Sometimes we, the citizens, have to go out and find these fakers.

But if we can't bring them to a court of law, if we can't have the rule of law, then we have nothing at all. Bill Koch story, his crusade against fake wine and again and against fake everything here on our American stories. Folks, if you love the great American stories we tell and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation. A monthly gift of seventeen dollars and seventy six cents is fast becoming a favorite option for supporters. Go to our American stories dot com now and go to the donate button and help us keep the great American stories coming.

That's our American stories dot com. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year. And UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHC Medicare health plans dot com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives.

I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop. But for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners, too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

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Purchase all free clear mega packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. This is Our American Stories, and we tell stories about everything here on this show, and we love hearing your stories. Up next, a story from a listener on 1100 KFAB in Omaha, Nebraska. Brett Evanoff joined the Army right before the Gulf War.

Here's Brent. I was born in Council Bluffs, Iowa, raised good Midwestern values. I come from a history of family serving in the military all the way back to World War I. Both grandparents fought in World War II, father, Vietnam era, countless aunts and uncles that had served over the years. That influenced me quite a bit, and I decided to join the military, graduated high school early. Just didn't really quite know what I wanted to do in this world other than serve the military and go on to do good things. December 1989, I enlisted as a cavalry scout, and I went through cavalry scout training in Fort Knox, Kentucky, and found myself assigned to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Fort Bliss, Texas, May of 1990. And being a new private, you know, everything's still new to me.

I'm training. In August of 1990, we were out on a two-week field training exercise when Iraq invaded Kuwait. To all intents and purposes, Kuwait has ceased to exist as an independent sovereign nation.

Good afternoon, everyone. Well, at this hour, Iraq remains in firm control of the tiny oil-rich country of Kuwait. We had a warning order to prepare to deploy to the Middle East.

Didn't really understand the consequences of that. We roll back on post, and there's trains everywhere. We're loading tanks and Bradleys on trains to go to Beaumont, Texas.

We're loading live ammunition into these armored vehicles to go to Beaumont, Texas. We had about 10 days to, you know, kind of finish shots, and we did some training. Being an 18-year-old kid, about to turn 19, the last three days we kind of had our own personal time. To be quite honest, I only remember about a third of that time, you know, being young kids, off to war. You know, we trained hard, and we kind of partied pretty hard.

Well, you know, I go over there overseas and get on with my life. Get out, go to college at the University of Iowa, and I graduated. I was an Omaha fireman for a little while, and then I proceeded to get interested in anesthesia and left and became certified registered nurse anesthetist. I found myself getting married to a woman, and we had three beautiful children, and, you know, my son is interested in going in the military, graduating high school much like I did.

And great kid on head on his shoulders, but I understand where he's coming from. You know, you don't know what you want to do. So he was going to enlist in the military, and, you know, I'm in my anesthesia practice, and I think, you know, I'm in my mid-40s and comfortable in my lifestyle. And, you know, I think I've got the world by the tail, and I find myself in a case, anesthesia case, and my sister texted me about noon and said, hey, can you talk? And I text her back.

I'm in a case. I call you later. She said, well, call me when you get home. And I get home that day.

It was in February of 2018, and I clicked back in the recliner. I remember it vividly, and the ceiling fan was on low, and she said, Bren, are you sitting down? And she's 12 months younger than me, and I know people out there with siblings. They know when they're messing with you or when something all of a sudden is very serious. And I said, yeah, I'm sitting down, sis.

What's going on? She bluntly told me that I have a 26-year-old son I don't know about. And I vividly remember looking at the ceiling fan. I watched the blade go around three times, and I kind of said, sis, I'm going to need a little more information. Well, the back story was my mom was OR housekeeping in another hospital, retired two years earlier. She got into genealogy and swabbed her buccal membrane and sent it in. And she gets an email back saying, hey, you two need to really talk. And my mom didn't know what to do, so she contacted my sister, and my sister was emailing this guy. It turns out this guy was in the United States Navy Station in Italy, and he said, you know, on my birth certificate, it says father unknown. You know, if this person doesn't want to be a part of my life, I understand that.

If they could tell me a little bit about maybe my genetic history, if I need to be concerned about anything, I'd appreciate it. And I'm just floored. You know, here I have the world by the tail, and then something like this happens to you unexpectedly.

You know, you're only on this earth, you know, a snap of a finger fraction of a second of time. Why would you not want to get to know someone like that? And so I said, yes, Chris, I would love to, you know, get a hold of him. And my sister sent me a picture of him.

You know, we look alike. His mother was down at Fort Bliss, Texas, the same time period I was. And, you know, I just hearken back to that time where being a, you know, raise your hand if you've never done anything irresponsible. I remember vividly video conferencing with the Skype and up pops this handsome young stud in the United States Navy serving overseas. And we kind of just, you know, said hello and, you know, got to know each other a little bit. And it was really a wonderful experience. And, you know, as I, you know, a month later, I kind of talked to my family and, you know, told them the story and how good head on the shoulders. You know, and we just kind of fomented this relationship of, you know, getting to know each other, you know, and this this kid has an amazing ability to, you know, I felt guilty, you know, because I missed being a father to him during impressionable years. And I felt guilty a lot of time. And he kept interrupting me saying, hey, let's not look in the back the rearview mirror.

Let's let's look down the road and just enjoy what we have. And, you know, a lot of times it brings me to tears, to be quite honest, that this young man could be so strong. And it really humbled me in a lot of ways.

So fast forward. My son's in the United States Army. And again, I call my my son that I've always known, my old young son and Tyler, my new old son. You know, he's in the Navy overseas in Italy. My son, my son, Nicholas, my old young son is in the Army in Korea.

And I've got two high school girls. And, you know, when I got out of the Army, I spent four months backpacking through part of North Africa and Europe and quite an adventure. And come to find out, my my new old son has traveled extensively through Europe and has military history interests, interests much like I do. And my son, Nicholas, my old young son, I thought, wow, you know, what an amazing experience. My two sons had not met that summer. I flew Tyler from Italy to meet his sisters for the first time.

Unfortunately, my son was already in the Army and in Korea at that time. So I thought, how can we all just kind of take this blessing and tie it all in together? I came up with the solution to I'd never traveled to Far East Asia. So I put this out there and it kind of came together in May and June. We spent 30 days backpacking through South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia to be able to see my sons meet for the first time and just kind of can try to connect ourselves as a family as best we can underneath the circumstances.

And boy, was it humbling and an amazing experience. So we're traveling, getting to know each other. Tyler, my new old son, does not have sisters. So watching them interact and new big brother, kind of as we're spending 30 days together, literally staying in hostels and kind of roughing it. You know, that's kind of what the venture we were looking for, teasing his new sisters. And likewise, the sisters teasing their new older brother back and brothers and brothers kind of interacting. You know, as a father, it it really, you know, kind of I was very, very happy. And you're listening to Brett Evanoff. He finds out he has a 26 year old son he never knew. And this became the gift, a blessing, as he said.

And the son says, let's not look in the rearview mirror, dad. When we come back, more of this remarkable voice, this beautiful story, Brett Evanoff's story here on Our American Stories. Soon millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year, and UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices. For those eligible, Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHCmedicarehealthplans.com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare, helping people live healthier lives. I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop, but for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners too, so they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. Doing household chores can already be time consuming and tedious. And there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done.

I mean, that can be overwhelming for anyone. So if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try all free clear mega packs. All free clear mega packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All free clear mega packs are also 100 percent free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs. My family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes, just know that all free clear mega packs, they have your back.

Purchase all free clear mega packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. And we continue with our American stories and Brett Evanoff story and the family is reuniting my new old son, my old young son and his two daughters, well, traiping around in Southeast Asia, getting to know each other better. Let's continue with the story. We decided that we wanted to see Vietnam and in order to see really Vietnam, they don't have a reliable public transportation system. So you have to ride motorcycles.

And I threw a lot of research. I found a guide out of Da Nang and we spent five days touring on motorcycles. My daughter riding behind me and my other daughter riding behind the guide and my two sons riding their own motorcycles. And we drove along the Ho Chi Minh trail out of Da Nang, headed south to the Asha Valley. And we got a permit from the communist government to climb Hamburger Hill and rode to Quezon. And everywhere we're going, we're stopping in little villages and meeting these people and and still seeing a lot of remnants from the war in a lot of ways. And we find ourself at Quezon.

And, well, we're looking around at some of the bunkers that had collapsed and were there. And a local villager came up to me and he had some trinkets and he wanted to sell them. And I looked at him and the first thing I saw was a U.S. military dog tag. And then I saw a North Vietnamese, rusted North Vietnamese army medal and so a few other trinkets and so forth.

And I knew I wanted them. So I paid I think I paid like seven dollars. And, you know, we went on with our trip, connected as a as a as a family and had an amazing experience. You know, my my son that I've never known comes into my life and we kind of come full circle with the family that he's never known and my family with a son they never knew.

Well, we get back from our trip to Omaha and I go back to work and I start researching, you know, my time off this this name on this tag. Well, this name kind of had a unique first name spelling. So I first thing I did is I use Internet search to find see if he was maybe one of the sixty eight thousand that were killed in the Vietnam War. And his name wasn't on there, which kind of gave me hope that maybe I can might be able to reconnect this piece of property to a U.S. military serviceman.

My preliminary Internet searches weren't coming up with anything. My wife got interested and she kind of helped me look around. And because of the gentleman's unique first spelling of his first name, we come across an old obituary from Minnesota of a gentleman that perhaps was this guy's father in the print that said, survived by this gentleman and his wife.

And my wife took the first name of his wife and the last name and looked on social media and found a Carol Hammond. And we got a phone number and I called and it was a voice machine. And I said, you know, hello, sir.

You know, my name's Brent Evanoff from Omaha. I just returned from Vietnam. And if I came back with a piece of property that that you may have left over there, if you're, you know, the mister that happened to lost this property over there, would you please call me? And so a week went by and it was a weekend and I'm doing stuff around the house and I get a phone call from this gentleman. And he says, yes, you know, this is me. I did serve. I served actually two tours in Vietnam.

You know, how can I help you? And I proceeded to tell them that, you know, it was traveling over there and and purchases dog tag. And he the first thing he asked me, he goes, what numbers are on there? And I proceeded to tell them and goes, oh, that was from my second deployment. Well, he proceeded to tell me his story.

And he grew up in northern Minnesota and got in a little bit of trouble three months before graduation from high school. And back then, you either went to jail or you went in the military and he chose the military and found himself in the hundred seventy third airborne in Vietnam. Nineteen sixty seven.

Nineteen sixty eight. He told me that, you know, that he was wounded with a roadside bomb that was command detonated. And, you know, he if it wasn't for him wearing the radio that day, that he probably would have lost his life because a large piece of shrapnel had torn into the radio. And he was wounded in the leg and and and got knocked out, actually, and came conscious and and recovered from that and went on to serve in Berlin, Germany during the 60s and the Cold War. Decided that he wanted to go back to Vietnam. So he found himself in the hundred and first airborne in 1969, 1970 in Vietnam.

And he said that time was, you know, a lot different than this first tour. They were doing missions, you know, that they didn't necessarily always wear their rank or their insignia or patches. And and he was in the Battle of Tamki and there is platoon of thirty five found themselves surrounded in a gun battle for at least a day. I thought maybe he said two. And and when the battle was over, he out of the thirty five, he was one of seven survivors.

And in fact, of those seven, two were not wounded. And he was one of them. He proceeded to tell me that he decided that, you know, back home in North Woods, Minnesota, was a place that he'd like to go and found himself there. And he actually runs a retreat for a local veterans group up there.

And hopefully one day I can meet him. Well, we had a wonderful phone call. I hung up and I told them that I'm going to be mailing this piece of property to him. And I said, I bought it from a villager in case on. And he goes, wow, you know, I never stepped one foot on case on. I operated about 50 miles south of there, actually.

The only thing I can come up with is, you know, trading over time, villagers and so forth. And and he doesn't remember one incident where he specifically lost his dog tag. But I mailed it to him. And, you know, I get an email about a week later from his wife. And it's, you know, his wife says it really my effort to track him down and return a piece of property from his past really meant a lot to him. And, you know, in my story, just kind of comes to a conclusion that two circles have been closed. A son I never met before reunited with his father and family that he's ever known and that through our travels together as a family, forming a new relationship that we're able to kind of bring full circle of veterans past to him by reuniting him with something as simple as a dog tag, which any member who's been in the military knows how much that is a part of their life at the time. So, you know, that those two experiences combined really humbles me as a as a father, as a, you know, human being and an American that, you know, just when you think that you think you have life figured out, you know, the older I get, the more I believe life is truly stranger than fiction. Indeed. And that's what we learn here every day, telling stories, especially our listeners, telling stories.

Great job as always by Robbie on the production and a special thanks to Brett Evanoff. And what a thing to do for a guy. Most people would have taken that dog tag and stuck it someplace. But he decided to track the person down who it belonged to. And I only know that my my grandparents would have loved to have had a dog tag or letters or anything from the son that died in World War Two. And all we got was a flag. So for anybody who served and lost somebody or even not lost somebody, the importance of this paraphernalia.

Well, it's not small. By the way, this show, as you know, is free to you, but it is not free to make. And any donations you'd like to make to us to continue to hear beautiful stories like this. Well, they'd be appreciated. Send any donations to our American stories dot com.

We're a nonprofit and we love what we do. And I know you love listening to these stories. And we want to keep telling them. Brett Evanoff story straight out of 1100 KFAB in Omaha, Nebraska.

Here on our American stories. Soon, millions will make Medicare coverage decisions for next year. And UnitedHealthcare can help you feel confident about your choices for those eligible. Medicare annual enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. If you're working past age 65, you might be able to delay Medicare enrollment depending on your employer coverage.

It can seem confusing, but it doesn't have to be. Visit UHC Medicare health plans dot com to learn more. UnitedHealthcare helping people live healthier lives.

I know everything there is to know about running a coffee shop. But for small business insurance, I need my State Farm agent. They make sure my business stays piping hot and I stay cool and confident. See, they're small business owners, too.

So they know how to help you best. State Farm is in your corner and on it. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.

Call your local State Farm agent for a quote today. Doing household chores can already be time consuming and tedious. And there's nothing more daunting than facing piles and piles of laundry that need to be done.

I mean, that can be overwhelming for anyone. So if you want to get those larger laundry loads done right and get back to your life, try all free clear mega packs. All free clear mega packs are bigger packs with two times the cleaning ingredients compared to a regular pack so that you can tackle any laundry load without the worry. All free clear mega packs are also 100 percent free of perfumes and dyes and they're gentle on skin, which is great for any family's sensitive skin needs. My family, we definitely have sensitive skin. So the next time the whole family gets home from long vacation or you get the kids back from summer camp or whatever the situation is that's caused this big pile of dirty clothes, just know that all free clear mega packs, they have your back.

Purchase all free clear mega packs today and conquer any laundry load for all fabric types. And we continue with our American stories and up next, a listener's story. Karen Thompson and her son, Joe Milink, are the definition of determination.

Here they are along with Joe's wife, Vicki, to share their story. I've always said we're kind of a strangely competitive family. And the other thing about our family is we're very active.

Our vacation to us is backpacking. I wouldn't say we do extreme sports, but we do we do like to push it. Yeah, it's got it's kind of weird because, you know, it's just something that we did.

I really enjoy running a lot. You know, it's something that we set out to do a while ago. You know, we were just running marathons and we realized that we had knocked off so many states. And one moment was like, oh, we have, you know, 10 or 12 states already knocked off. And that's when Joe said, well, why don't we try to do all 50 states? And at the time I said, sure, let's just yeah, why not? Let's do it. And so what happened was kind of before the pandemic, we said we probably need to pick up the pace.

No, no pun intended there. And then my daughter in law, Vicki, is the one who organizes everything. We could not have done it without Vicki because she's our pit crew extraordinaire and she lines everything up. But we would turn it into like mini vacations like Alaska. That was a family vacation. And some of the family ran a half.

But Joe and I ran the full. And that's where we saw the moose. And there was this little guy that kept running ahead of us and dropping back. And he's running ahead of us and he sees the moose and he just kind of stops and looks around.

And there was this other guy who was big football player kind of guy. And he says, it's OK. And he puts out his arms and just kind of walked, walked us all through the moose passage right there. But you want to tell about how you broke your leg and why was it Montana?

Yeah, I broke my leg around about five or six and then shuffle walked the last 20 miles of it in pure pain. But I was determined not to have to go back to Montana. We're not going off that state.

Because if you don't finish, you got to go back to that state. And we were happy to be able to finish that. But he was in quite a bit of pain.

Yeah. It was hurting before the marathon quite a bit. And I pretty much stopped running for about two weeks. The pain subsided a little bit. But right away, when we started, I knew it wasn't going to last. And then pretty much around mile four or five or six, I just felt like you could just feel it pop.

I knew it had it was it was it was a full break. It was a stress fracture. So but you get but you felt I felt this moment where it's like blinding pain and I knew something was wrong. And then it was just I was you know, I'm like, OK, I can get through this. So I I hobbled, so to speak. They obviously I was dead last.

It took him six hours and forty nine minutes, which actually that's not bad time when you think about the broken leg. Yeah. I remember stopping at a rest stop and having to go to the bathroom and being unable to get out of the vehicle. So another one was Maui. That was wonderful. And when we finished the marathon in Maui, we you you go you walk right into the ocean. It was just amazing.

Yeah. So I think our our favorites would probably be Maui's mine. Maui was mine.

Alaska. Maine was beautiful, too. And that was our last one. Maine was our very last one.

It was beautiful. We ran into Vicki Hilton. We ran into Canada, went by Camp Belo. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. We went by Lubbock, Maine, is where we were.

And it was just beautiful. Yeah. And we had to bring our passports because we ran into Canada. So some of the marathons you run into other countries. So Detroit, Detroit was another one.

So you so if you're going to do that, you have to bring your passport so that you can get in, get in and out of the country. Can you think of any other ones that you really liked? I have a tendency not to remember them at all, like at all. So I'm like the worst source of information about them because I don't remember them. They all blend together.

There's certain moments I remember like the painful ones. But other than that, they just all seem to blend together. Yeah. So how many marathons would we do a year? But well, at the height of the height, we do five or six.

Mm hmm. So it's really important and helpful to have somebody follow you through the marathon. Vicki brings she has water. She has Vaseline because Advil. Well, because what happens is you you chafe really bad.

I remember my very first marathon was actually in St. Louis. And somebody offered, did you want Vaseline? I'm like, well, whatever far. And I finished and it looked like somebody had grabbed my arm and just held it. It was like look bruised. But it wasn't bruised. It was from the rubbing and the chafing of your arms rubbing against your body. And I went, oh, and it hurts.

I make no mistake. It's almost a bruise would feel better. But the chafing is very painful. So it took us how many years to do this? Seventeen.

It took us 17 years to do this. So as time went on, you know, I got slower and he got faster, of course. I really never trained. I would run at least four miles a day. I mean, when I say at least, I mean, at least four miles a day. And then before a marathon, I'm maybe up to 13. You know, for not every day, but just, you know, like I'd run a week before I try to get in a 13 miler for a while.

Toward the end, Vicky would run with me to help me, help me prep. But basically we would just I would just increase my mileage every day. That's pretty much all I did to train.

Did you ever train, Joe? Yeah, I mean, I run a lot every single week. She's done running marathons, but I have quite a few more goals to achieve. So, you know, I run 60, 70 miles a week for training. So, yeah, and I'm not sure I'm quite done running marathons, but but maybe I don't know.

One of the things we like to do before a marathon is to go out and have sushi. And then afterwards, I am very sore. You've always heard of, you know, be kind of gross, but you lose toenails.

Yes, you do. There were a couple of years where I wouldn't wear sandals because my feet look so horrible. But it kind of feels like you got the flu, like you got a really bad case of the flu where everything's sore. Yeah, that's that's kind of what it feels like for me. And so this, you know, this too will pass. So, yeah, we got to the point where we started making a point to finish together. So we would come across the finish line and we'd join hands and would hold them up high.

So and they they would they would. And it's always, always a thrill when they announce this. Actually, toward the end, I kind of I kind of just started, you know, visualizing that and hearing the announcer in my head to kind of get me through that last part. It's like it's almost over.

It's almost over. And sometimes it's kind of emotional that you made it through another twenty six point two miles. So for my 60th birthday, I wanted to do the MR.

It's called the MR three for 40. And it's a race down the Missouri River from Kansas City to St. Charles. And Joe drove us to Kansas City and we're sitting in the safety meeting because everybody has to go to safety me because it's kind of a dangerous thing to do. And I said, oh, this is a race.

And Joe says, yeah, mom, it's a race. So my husband and I have an old town canoe and we paddled it as fast as we could, which is like paddling a barge. And we made it from Kansas City to St. Charles. And the time goes at four days that it took us to do it. We slept maybe seven hours.

So you don't sleep. You just keep paddling. Yeah. Just keep going. Keep going. Just like a marathon. You just keep going. You just keep going.

And this year I'm 65. So we're going to do it again. So that's kind of replace my marathons for now. We'll see.

We'll see what happens as time goes on. I still run every day. My husband and I run every day.

And Joe, you want to. He's still running. He's still going to be doing marathons. Yeah. No, I'm still still doing marathons. I have a marathon in a couple of weeks here. So I'm going to keep going.

I've got quite a few more to do. And a great job on the storytelling by Greg Hengler and a special thanks to Karen Thompson and her son, Joe Milink. Along with Joe's wife, Vicki, they share their story and the kids in the background.

Well, they in their own way shared their story, too. They'd run marathons in 12 states. And in came that suggestion. Every family knows that person who suggests something like this. Hey, let's do all 50. And what do you know? They do it. And they finish them all over a 17 year period. Treating each one like a family vacation with family rituals, including that sushi meal and coming to the finish line as a family holding their hands up. A remarkable and beautiful listener story here on Our American Stories.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-16 14:16:05 / 2023-02-16 14:32:55 / 17

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