April 21, 2023

National Volunteer Week: Ceremonial

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Did you know that our Volunteers tracked 17,027.9 hours in 2022? From virtual packing to finish line Hospitality, our events are filled with the incredible people supporting the Marine Corps, the community, our runners and our organization. In honor of National Volunteer Week, we wanted to highlight the various roles of the individuals that make this well-oiled engine go. Even introduce you to a few!

Without our volunteers, we couldn’t do it. It’s as simple as that.

Ceremonial Volunteers

Some of the most visible volunteers are those found assisting with the Ceremonial aspects of an event. From the voice hyping you up at the beginning to the person passing out the awards, there are also volunteers who help bring the effervescence to the event.

Opening Ceremony

MCM Color Guard

It wouldn’t be a MCMO event without a little patriotism to kick everything off. Specifically, it wouldn’t be a Marine Corps event without a Marine Corps color guard. We are blessed to have the Marine Corps Base Quantico Ceremonial Platoon support. These Marines are a part of every MCMO event and joined by the color guard from Marine Barracks Washington for MCM Weekend. Of course, the National Anthem is then sung by one of many very talented individuals throughout the regional area.

We would be amiss if we didn’t also show pour gratitude to those who join us throughout the year to provide the Invocation, often by Navy Chaplains from the Marine Corps Base Quantico Chaplain’s Office. Sometimes this role is even filled by a Pastor from a local ministry!

Announcers & Entertainment

Every event needs some pomp and circumstance. How can you have that without a little entertainment and a good emcee? Yes, some are contracted. Others, just want to be a part of the atmosphere.

One such person is Jessica Cash, who is all too familiar with the Marine Corps Historic Half (MCHH) and the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM). Cash became involved with MCMO back in 1997 when she ran her first MCM, the first of seven in a row for Cash. Cash retired from the area’s media market in 2020 where she was the morning show announcer on 98.7 WMZQ in Washington D.C. and later on 93.3 WFLS in Fredericksburg, Va.

When the Marine Corps Historic Half was founded, Cash became one of the voices of the event. “I had participated as a runner in the MCHH since its start in 2008.  I would run the race and then jump on stage and help Mark Goldman with the announcing after my run,” explained Cash.

Even though Cash no longer lives in the area, she still elects to make the trip up and be a part of the fun as one of the announcers for MCHH and MCM Weekends. “My most rewarding memories are of those who have listened to me talk about the events on the radio and say I have inspired them to lose weight and become a runner,” expressed Cash.  “Being the morning show host on 93.3 WFLS in Fredericksburg for 14 years allowed me to share and hear so many inspiring stories. There are so many stories and memories I will never forget as well as so many more to come.”

In addition to the Announcers, the course is full of Entertainment to help runners keep going. From bands and DJ’s to cheer groups and costumed performers, some of these motivating individuals join us just to help encourage you along. Do you have a favorite

HH Town Crier and Musket Shooter

Awards & Ancillary Events

Fun fact: Cash is the voice of the Awards Ceremony at both the MCHH and MCM! If you have been a part of those ceremonies, or just witnessed them, you are familiar with her.

MCHH  Awards

Outside of the emcee, there are also the volunteers who assist with organizing, presenting and ensuring the ceremony runs smoothly by working closely with MCMO Staff.

We are fortunate to have some volunteers who assist with our Ancillary Events in addition to the Awards. Varying from opening ceremonies and press conferences to dinner receptions, these individuals help with set up, check-in and clean-up.


One staple at our Ancillary Events, as well as the main show, are the fan-favorite mascots! Runners, spectators and whomever may be around have all likely taken a picture with your friendly neighborhood cheerleader. I mean, let’s all just admit that we love to take a picture with Miles, Molly or McHalf!

One of the individuals behind the costume is John Williamson, an Active-Duty Marine, who has been volunteering as Miles since last Summer. If you were at the MCM Kids Run, he was the victor as Miles in the mascot race!

MCM_Miles Expo

“What inspired me to volunteer is ultimately the same thing that made me join the Marine Corps, a desire to serve and make a difference. In a world beset by problems and a constant cycle of negativity, volunteering gives me an opportunity to fight back and help bring just a little bit of joy and happiness to others,” said Williamson. “Our interconnectedness and making a difference in someone else’s life, even a small one, is what brings meaning to life.”

Having volunteered as a mascot for about 20 years, Williamson is certainly bringing some joy to our running community. “My favorite and most rewarding memories from volunteering with MCMO events is every time I see someone, both children and adults alike, light up when they see the mascot. If I can bring joy to others, even momentarily, then it is worth it,” expressed Williamson. “It is definitely worth it (volunteering) and while there are always distractions, volunteering absolutely makes a difference in other people’s lives.”

VIP Volunteers

Lastly, during MCHH and MCM Weekend, we are joined by several volunteers who assist with the VIP tent. From helping with check-in, serving as a driver, answering questions and more, these individuals assist the MCMO VIP Coordinator with management of the area.

“Creating memorable, achievement-oriented, experiences for our participants is the mission of the Marine Corps Marathon Organization. A mission that’s enabled by the dedication of over 2,300 volunteers who support every phase of each event on an annual basis,” expressed Alex Hetherington, MCMO director. “The “must do, will do, can do” reputation of the United States Marine Corps is what inspires both our runners and volunteers, and is the essential difference in quality and degree which defines Marine Corps Marathon Events!”

Our Ceremonial Volunteers help take the experience to another level. Thank You.

Register for the Marine Corps Marathon Weekend

Recognized for impeccable organization on an iconic course managed by the US Marines in Arlington, VA and the nation’s capital, the Marine Corps Marathon is one of the largest marathons in the US and the world. Known as ‘the best marathon for beginners,’ the MCM is the largest marathon in the world that doesn’t offer prize money, earning its nickname, “The People’s Marathon.” The weekend also offers the MCM10K and MCM50K.