Triathlete supports clinic

Published 9:49 pm Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A couple of people in Western Tidewater are walking around healthier today, thanks to Stephen Menefee, and he hopes one day to increase the number of people healthier because of him exponentially.

The 2009 Nansemond-Suffolk Academy graduate trained for a triathlon earlier this year and in the process raised about $2,000 for the Western Tidewater Free Clinic.

“I believe this race changed me,” Menefee said. “It put the hardships of the race in perspective by making me think about all of the people facing real hardships in life.”


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Menefee has been volunteering at the clinic since 2015, doing data entry tracking patient prescription data. The behind-the-scenes job is important because it helps show entities that fund the clinic the outcomes of patients.

While in college at Cornell University, he had gotten the idea to do an Ironman triathlon, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and a full, 26.2-mile marathon. But school got in the way of training — after all, he was completing a triple major in material science engineering, bioengineering and biological sciences in only five years.

But after he graduated, he had enough time to train and got the idea to use it as a fundraiser for the Western Tidewater Free Clinic.

“They can see me suffer for an all-day event and give money for a good cause,” Menefee joked.

He cleared the idea with clinic officials and set up a GoFundMe page. He shared the link on Facebook, and the clinic shared it on its own Facebook page as well.

The GoFundMe account currently reflects nearly $1,400 in donations. Donations that have come in off-line have boosted the total to about $2,000.

“His funding dollars equaled to almost two patients annually, so it’s no small thing,” said Ashley Greene, the director of development for the Western Tidewater Free Clinic. The annual cost of patient care is about $1,225 per patient, Greene said.

“Two thousand dollars makes a serious dent into care for our patients.”

Greene said she believes it was the most successful third-party fundraiser that’s ever been done for the clinic.

Even after training for seven months, Menefee couldn’t have imagined a more brutal race day. The race took place in Cambridge, Md., on Oct. 1, when Hurricane Matthew was churning off the coast.

The race directors called off the swim portion of the event at the last minute and shaved about 12 miles off of the bike course due to a flooded road.

But other portions of the bike and run course were also flooded, just not as bad, and it rained on the competitors the entire time.

Menefee still managed to finish in 13 hours, 34 minutes and four seconds.

“It was a good race,” he said.

These days, Menefee is applying to medical schools. He’s anxiously awaiting a response from Eastern Virginia Medical School, his top choice.

“Ultimately, I’d like to make biomedical devices,” he said.

Menefee said he appreciates the opportunity he’s had to support the clinic in a different way.

“The clinic does incredible work helping members of my community, and I am thankful for the opportunity I had to further support its mission,” he said.