7th Group Savage: Green Berets Race Around Bay for Charity

Special forces members are running the Savage Loop, a 40+ mile race, to raise money for 'A Special Wish of Northeast Ohio' and grant wishes to sick children. Join us in supporting this noble cause!

At 0500 on 13 April, you’ll see special forces members gathering quietly at LJ Schooners – But the green berets won’t be a part of an exercise. Instead, the small but rapidly growing cohort of men and women who compete in the Savage Loop for charity every year. 

7th Special Forces Group Sargeant Dennis Roche and a couple of his buddies dreamed up The Savage Loop—essentially a 40+ mile run around the Okaloosa County half of the Choctawhatchee Bay—when they returned from a deployment in South America during the COVID-19 crisis in 2020. 

“When we got back, COVID was at its highest,” Roche remembers. All the gyms were shutting down, so we decided to push our cardiovascular capabilities.”

The group initially considered doing the race on bikes but decided to run instead.  

Roche, co-race director Brandon Arenas, and two others ran the inaugural race in 2020. They started from LJ Schooners in Bluewater Bay and made a more than 40-mile trek around the bay. The name ‘Savage’ is appropriate—a good portion of the run takes place on Destin beaches. 

The following year, they had a total of 15 participants. 

From there, the group decided to use their superhuman efforts around the Choctawhatchee Bay to raise money for charity—specifically ‘A Special Wish of Northeast Ohio,’ which grants sick children a wish while they are dealing with the effects of serious illness. 

They felt the organization was the perfect fit for two reasons: It helped kids who were ‘stuck’ behind the walls of a hospital like the green berets felt when they were locked down. They also decided to go with ‘A Special Wish’ because Roche trusts the charity’s director —after all, she’s a blood relative. 

RELATED: Round the Bay Relay Preps for 13th Race

“My Cousin is actually the president,” Roche said. I’ve had experience with it with my family. I know their work.”

This year, the team will sponsor Hope, a child with cerebral palsy who survived after being born early and weighing just a single pound and continues to fight heart problems. 

A Special Wish of Northeast Ohio covers five hospitals, including the Cleveland Clinic, a world-renowned children’s hospital. 

Roche says he’s already run out of shirts for participants, but people can still register to run the Savage Loop and donate to the cause. 

You can sign up here for more. 

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