The year was 1967 and Jim Blacketer was just 18-years-old.
He started training as a Marine at 17, then was shipped out to Vietnam and for the next two years, he served in the jungle of Danang.
His time in Vietnam has left Jim battling multiple ailments he feels are connected to Agent Orange poisoning.
"It has given me quite a few diseases, unfortunately. Parkinson's is one, heart disease is another and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder," Blacketer said.
The herbicide was used to kill plants, eliminating hiding places for the enemy, but was later found to cause health problems and even death.
"The biggest problem that I have to overcome is the mental problem," Jim said. "Because every day when I wake up, it's easy to say well I've been shaking today and it's easy to say well I'll stay in bed."
But Jim is pushing forward with a new mission in mind, a 26.2 mile mission.
He's training for a marathon on March 23, then in just 30 days to venture on a bike ride up Mount Lemon in Arizona.
Both tasks increased in difficulty because of Jim's health, but says he knows what he's fighting for.
"I remember my friends that didn't make it home," Jim said, "and I'm just not going to let it win."
His goal is to conquer his illness and conquer the marathon. Despite his health, Jim remains optimistic and very active.
He and his family own and run the Burgess-Rushing Tennis Center, where he still coaches.
Together Jim and his wife have raised nine children to play and love the sport of Tennis.
He plans to get pledges to sponsor his run in order to generate enough money to cover the outdoor tennis courts at the facility.
If you would like to make a pledge to sponsor Jim's marathon, you can contact the Burgess-Rushing Tennis Center at 3030 66th Street or call (806) 767-3727.
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