Carry the Load co-founders Stephen Holley and Clint Bruce are both Navy SEAL Veterans. The idea for their initiative was born out of anger and frustration, feeling that Americans were drifting away from the original purpose of Memorial Day. On Memorial Day 2010 Clint decided to undergo physical pain as an emotional purge. He loaded his pack with one pound for every comrade he had lost. During that walk he encountered a WWII Veteran who asked him; “Who are you carrying son?” Stephen joins us to share more information about their organization.
Stephen and Clint organized their first Carry the Load walk in 2011. The event raised $100,000. Their intent was to just organize a Memorial Day event but it has since grown to a year round series of activities across 48 states. Carry the Load has raised over $33 million for Veteran and First Responder charities. Interestingly, their grassroots growth has principally been driven by the 99% or our population who never served.
Their goal this Memorial Day is to raise $2 million dollars. They have five national relays traveling 24 hours a day, seven days a week following different paths across the US. Those relays will cover a total of 20,000 miles during the month of May. There are also rallies schedule in many cities.
If there is not an event near you, Stephen encourages you to form a team and conduct your own. There is no cost to register – YOU can make a donation or register to walk at their website. Veteran and First Responder organizations who would like to apply to be a beneficiary can do so in September of each year.
Carry the Load has three principal focus areas; Raising awareness, funding continuum of care programs and inspiring patriotism in our nation’s youth.
TAKEAWAY: A critical element of each event is facilitating participants to share their “why” with each other. They walk because “you can’t run and talk.”