This guest post is by Vol Montgomery.
Ask your neighbors what Memorial Day means to them. Is it a three-day weekend? A barbecue? A mattress sale? What do you think Memorial Day should mean?
Carry the Load – Austin will help bring back the true meaning of Memorial Day. This one-day, non-profit event honors veterans and active duty service members, law enforcement officers, firefighters and their families. It raises funds to support the meaningful work of four local charities: The Comfort Crew for Military Kids, Heroes on the Water, Folds of Honor Foundation and Serve Who Serve.
Carry the Load – Austin will take place on May 25, 2013 at Reveille Peak Ranch, a 1,300-acre outdoor adventure and event center just outside of Burnet, one hour from Austin. Founded three years ago in Dallas by Clint Bruce, a former Navy Seal, Carry the Load is coming to the Central Texas area for the first time.
Walking to Honor Heroes
The main feature of the May 25th event is a 20.13-mile walk in which people will “carry the load” in honor of a fallen or injured hero on a one-mile loop around the pavilion and lake at Reveille Peak Ranch. Fundraising teams are built around the hero, and team members raise money for the Carry the Load charities through donations from friends and family.
Team members can choose to walk the entire 20.13-mile course, or just portions as they wish. This is not a race, and many people will carry the load in different ways, such as with weighted vests, fire hoses, flags or just pictures of their heroes. We hear we might even have a group of seven WWII veterans who will walk three one-mile laps each to complete the 20 miles. No doubt, this will be a very moving event.
Kim Kelsall of Austin plans to walk the entire 20.13 miles with a team of family and friends. She is honoring her brother, Lieutenant Commander Jonas B. Kelsall, a U.S. Navy SEAL killed in action in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011. Having walked 20 hours in his honor during the 2012 Carry the Load Dallas Memorial March, Kim explained how it feels to walk that long, side by side with other people who have lost someone special. “It gives you the opportunity to remember that there are a lot of people behind you, sharing your grief, and that you are not alone.” Carry the Load helps Kim focus on how proud she is of her brother, she says. “Pride takes up a lot more room in your heart than grief does.”
Showcasing Texas’ Readiness
The second main feature of Carry the Load – Austin will be a showcase of the military, law enforcement and firefighting readiness capabilities of the State of Texas. This includes a one hour and forty-five minute live demonstration at Reveille Peak Ranch of parachute water landings, a helicopter helocast and “fast rope” rappel, unmanned aerial/land-based vehicles, advanced firefighting systems, and much more.
Carry the Load will be a very family-friendly event with many children’s activities during the walk, including fishing and nature education provided by the Upper Highland Lakes Nature Center. The demonstration is free and open to all team members and volunteers.
Raising Funds to Support Non-Profits
Funds raised by Carry the Load – Austin will go to support The Comfort Crew for Military Kids, Heroes on the Water, Folds of Honor Foundation and Serve Who Serve.
AT&T is the Battle Group Sponsor of this event, and we are very grateful for the support of all our sponsors and partners who have committed to making this event so special and impactful. Through our event sponsors and fundraising teams, our goal is to raise $750,000.
MyPlates.com is donating 10% of proceeds from the sale of its new Green Camo official Texas license plates (available May 15th) to Carry the Load – Austin, with an additional $10 per plate donation when purchased on Memorial Day, May 27th.
And if you raise $150 as an individual or $500 as a team, Camp Gladiator will give you a free month of boot camp (a $160 value, for new campers only).
Serving Those Who Serve
There has never been a more important a time in our nation’s history when we, Americans, must be committed to serving our country, the men and women who protect our homeland and communities, and our youth. A stronger America requires strong communities, families, and values.
I invite you to support our efforts to make this event’s inaugural year a success, and help us refocus the meaning of Memorial Day.
Vol Montgomery is a committee member for Carry the Load – Austin and the owner of Reveille Peak Ranch, a 1,300-acre adventure ranch in the Texas Hill Country for mountain biking, trail running, SCUBA diving, camping, training programs, racing events and outdoor adventure.
Photos courtesy of Kim Kelsall.