“It is a wonderful feeling to see our community work together and show support for our veterans and active military.” This is how Amy Suzan felt after she and her co-leader, Curtis DeCora held a very successful Carry The Fallen event in Hayward, Wisconsin on April 29, 2017.
Just two years ago, this very same ruck march was led by the late Major Justin Fitch and his family. In his honor, Amy, Curtis and the community wanted to recreate what Major Fitch had left behind, and carry his legacy throughout the city.
137 participants ruck marched a total of 8.3 miles from Hayward Veterans Center to LCO Casino. Roughly half of the participants had previously participated in the 2015 event and remember Major Fitch for all he did to help Active Heroes and their mission.
“It was Justin’s dying wish to end veteran suicide and he asked for our help in continuing his fight after he is gone. He passed away from cancer and had over 30 surgeries and 50 plus rounds of chemo, yet he fought for others and was selfless even through the immense pain he was suffering,” said Amy Suzan. “This organization was very dear to Justin as he came very close to committing suicide and then decided it was his mission to help others.”
To begin the ruck, Col. Paul Wharton, a retired Army Officer spoke about the importance of ending veteran suicide and explained the toll that PTSD can take on veterans and active military every day. Participants for this event helped raise $7,098 through their online fundraisers, and on top of that an additional $2,338 on the day of. Since 2015, Hayward Carry The Fallen team has raised $52,336!
Fifteen businesses donated raffle items or helped prepare lunch and items for the ruck march. The LCO Health Center provided lunch and many others donated gift certificates from their business for the raffle that was held after at the LCO Casino.
At the start of the after event, participants were welcomed by a very special drum ceremony by Soldiers Drum, made up of Lac Courte Oreilles veterans, and heard from native veterans. Those veterans spoke about their own personal journey while serving our country and what happens once they return home. The floor was then open the rest of the night for anyone who wanted a chance to also share their story or what was on their mind. The after event helped raise another $5,630, bringing the grand total from the day to $15,066. Another big thank you to Springbrook VFW for posting the colors during the ceremony.
“Participants felt it was a great day and a great event to show our support to veterans and active military. These events are a great way to meet your neighbors and make new friends and support each other. We had a cross fit gym in Hayward that held a WOD (workout of the day) to End Veteran Suicide this year and also had a great turn out,” said Amy.
Active Heroes allows communities to come together as one with the many different national events they hold. From Carry The Fallen, to WOD to End Veteran Suicide, Hayward, Wisconsin is a great example of this. One city can truly make a difference, and even a small town just like Hayward!
“I’d like to thank everyone for participating, Frank, from the local media for joining us the entire 8.3 miles, taking testimonials along the way,” said Curtis DeCora. “All the company supporters who pitched in to make this event such a huge success, we thank you!”
In 2016, a total of 215 lives were saved from all active challenge programs recorded by team leaders and gym owners. If you would like to help increase this number, and become a team leader click here for more information. If you would like to host a national event such as Carry The Fallen in your own city to help make a difference, find that information here. It’s never too late to make a change.