Team Mission United: Nelson


Nelson Reyes is a U.S. Army veteran as well as a member of Team Mission United, United Way of Long Island’s team of runners entered in the New York City Marathon to raise money for veterans. He understands what it means to serve in the military as well as the importance of supporting veterans.

“I believe that the veteran demographic is a tricky one to serve, especially in regard to combat veterans,” Nelson, 37, of Central Islip, said. “The more programs and awareness we can bring to this community the better.”

Nelson joined the Army in July of 2002 soon after 9/11. He said he felt it was his “duty to serve and protect my country” and did so honorably for eight years, including time as an infantry soldier in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

He was part of the Manchu Warriors of South Korea in Camp Casey, South Korea, and The 82nd All American Paratroopers of Ft. Bragg, NC, in the U.S. Army, and New York State’s Fighting 69th in the National Guard. He was on active duty in the U.S. Army from 2002 to 2006 and in the New York State National Guard from 2006 to 2010.

He hasn’t run the New York City Marathon, but he ran in the Marine Corps Marathon (2018) and the Long Island Marathon (2019) as well as three 50-mile ultra marathons in 2018, 2019 and 2020 for the Lt. Michael Murphy Foundation. 

“They were memorial runs,” he said. “Lt. Michael Murphy is a medal of honor awardee from Patchogue. He was a Navy Seal.”

Although Nelson hadn’t been training for the New York City Marathon when he signed onto the team, he says “inadvertently I've been training for something as I try to stay ready for whatever life throws my way.”

“I’m excited to run the New York City Marathon. It has been a dream of mine to do it,” he said. “Running has always been a passion of mine.”

A friend of his who had worked for United Way, let him know about an “amazing opportunity to continue serving the veteran community.”

“When I got the call that I could be part of Team Mission United, I knew that this was it and I had to say, ‘Yes,’” he said.

He has worked in the security and life safety industry for the past nine years and started his own business in the industry in August 2020, Tekne Ai Life Safety & Asset Protection. “It’s part of the electronic security industry. I do safety alarm systems for homes and businesses, CCTV or camera systems, access control systems, intercom systems,” he said. “And I’ve worked with schools, helping make them safe.”

Nelson said he’s happy to be working with the not-for-profit, which he sees as a good organization doing wonderful work. “United Way is one of the many great organizations that help veterans and people with their needs,” he said. “I am honored to represent them and raise money for such an organization.”