Rob Boudiette is a difference maker.

The retired Army Warrant Officer made a difference during a 20-year career that saw four deployments to Operation Desert Storm, Operation Joint Endeavor, Operation Joint Guard and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

He makes a difference with his ready smile, outgoing personality, a firm handshake, his love of country and family and the commitment he is putting in on a weekly basis as he prepares for the 40th Annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 8, in which he will be a part of the Pat Tillman Foundation’s “Team Tillman” fundraising campaign.

You might recall that Tillman shocked the sports community when he put his NFL career with the Arizona Cardinals on hold to serve his country. Family and friends established the Pat Tillman Foundation following Tillman’s death in April 2004 while serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan.

Created to honor Tillman’s legacy of leadership and service, the Pat Tillman Foundation invests in military veterans and their spouses through academic scholarships – building a diverse community of leaders committed to service to others.

To date, nearly $1 million has been raised to fund scholarships for Tillman Scholars, who share Tillman’s commitment to service, learning and action.

“I’m honored to have been accepted on the ‘Team Tillman’ fundraising campaign,” said Boudiette, who has surpassed his fundraising goal of $1,500 by reaching $1,725 in donations from family, friends and social media posts (https://www.crowdrise.com/rob-boudiette---team-tillman--2017-chicago-marathon/fundraiser/robboudiette).

“There are so many great charities out there. But this one is very special to me because of what Pat Tillman stood for and the fact that they provide scholarships for veterans and their families.”

Boudiette hit the pavement near Brittany Hills Middle School at 5:45 a.m. Wednesday and got in eight miles. During his training leading up the Chicago Marathon, his longest run will be 22 miles – while a marathon consists of 26.2 miles – and he’s currently averaging 45 miles a week.

“We are so proud to have Rob as part of our team,” said Ethan Armstrong, the development manager of the Pat Tillman Foundation. “You were talking about difference makers, like Pat, and Rob is certainly a difference maker.

“He’s been an active member of our team and he is a great advocate of everything this foundation stands for. Let me tell you about a guy like Rob – there are people who know about the foundation, write a check for $20 and that’s it.

“Rob is spreading the word, working hard training and raising money for our foundation. He stands for the same values Pat stood for – and we are so honored that he chose our foundation. He’s making a difference, although I know that all he wants to do is get the word out on the foundation without taking any credit for himself.”

A light rain begins to fall as Boudiette contemplates one final question.

“People ask me about my training regimen and my goals,” said Boudiette, 49. “First, I want to finish. Second, I want to finish under four hours, and I really want to qualify for the Boston Marathon. To do that, I have to finish under 3:30.”

He walks the walk – eight miles a day, 45 miles a week – as his actions overshadow his words.

When Boudiette left the military he found that he was gaining weight, smoking too much and suddenly taking the type of pills he had hoped to avoid. 

So he hit the pavement, dropped 50 pounds, threw away his cigarettes and ran his first marathon on April 30 of this year in Oklahoma City. "I ran some half marathons, I ran the Liberty Memorial and I decided to try a marathon just to see if I could do it," he said with a laugh. Now, in October, he will join 45,000 marathon runners in one of the biggest events in the country – and he's doing it all for a cause.

For more information on the Pat Tillman Foundation and the impact of the Tillman Scholars, visit PatTillmanFoundation.org.