Alyssa Barbosa since 2016 has served as a member of the New York Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing at Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton. She also works as a nursing assistant at Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson. The 24-year-old Lindenhurst resident now brings the same focus and motivation to the New York City Marathon as a member of Team Mission United, raising suuport for veterans.
“They told me the mission. I think it’s awesome,” Alyssa said of the United Way of Long Island’s Team Mission United. “I’m in the military and I would love to give back.”
Alyssa does aircraft maintenance in the Air National Guard, specializing in “e and e” or electrical and environmental, such as heating, cooling and other electrical components. She sees herself as a team player whether serving in the Air National Guard, working in a hospital or running.
“That’s been my life motto, team work. I look at how I was every day and I try to be better the next day,” Alyssa said. “I like to prepare myself for whatever obstacle or mission. I don’t want to let my team down. I put 110 percent into everything I do. I’ve been training hard.”
She grew up in both Levittown and Hicksville, graduating from Division Avenue High School in Levittown, where she played soccer, lacrosse, ice hockey, as well as taking part in gymnastics and track. At the New York Institute of Technology, she played soccer as a freshman and sophomore while studying nursing and is now studying nursing at Suffolk County Community College.
“I’m trying to better myself,” she said of taking on challenges. “That’s why I decided to do the marathon and train. I’m trying to go out of my comfort zone.”
Alyssa said her Uncle George was a marine and her Uncle Harry was a pilot in the Air Force. She serves in the Air National Guard, continuing a family tradition of service in addition to her work as a nursing assistant.
She trains for the marathon with Jason Safuto, a family friend and fellow Team Mission United member. Running together, she said, provides additional motivation. “Sometimes we run to the gym, work out and run back,” she said. “We’re pushing each other.”
She also tries to eat well, good for her health and for conditioning for the marathon. “I eat healthy and I don’t eat fast food,” she said. “I don’t feel sluggish. I have a lot of energy.”
Running reveals things about yourself, forcing you to summon an inner strength. Although the marathon is the main event, she says training as an important part of the process.
“The other day, I stretched and started running. The first mile and a half, you feel it. Once you hit two miles, you’re just going,” she said. “You clear your mind when you’re running. It helps you have a positive start to your day.”
She ran shorter distances on the track team, typically 1,000 meters. Running long distance means making the mind and muscles work together, as you summon the strength to accomplish a goal. “I’ve never really done distance. I like that I have the ability. I’m able to push it,” Alyssa said.
“I tap into this mindset where I keep going. I love it.”