(COLORADO SPRINGS) — Hundreds of active duty military and many community members marched through Saturday morning’s fog with 25 pounds of non-perishable food on their backs for the Colorado Veterans Project’s Memorial Day Run and March.
“A big part of this run is raising food donations to help homeless veterans and veterans that are struggling with food insecurities,” said Todd Youngblood, Board President of the Colorado Veterans Project.
In partnership with the Special Forces Foundation, the Colorado Veterans Project hosted its ninth annual Memorial Day Run and March on May 20, at the UC Health Park where hundreds of participants were able to donate thousands of pounds of food to veterans in need.
In order to participate in the 30k ruck march, participants needed to fill their backpacks with 25 pounds of non-perishable food.
“We didn’t want a ruck march event where somebody just throws a dumbbell weight in their ruck, and run. We’re like, how can we make this impactful for the demographic that we’re trying to support?” said Ignacio Garza, the founder and executive director of the Special Forces Foundation.
This event usually churns out over 50,000 pounds of food to donate to veterans in need and has become the largest single-day food drive in the state, according to Youngblood.
“The last thing any veteran should be is hungry. We should take care of our veterans. We should ensure that they don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from,” said Youngblood.
Those that completed the march under four hours and 30 minutes were eligible for the Norwegian Ruck March badge. It’s one of the most difficult foreign military badges a soldier can earn, and this race is one of the few places in the U.S. where they can earn it.
Those that didn’t want to endure the grueling ruck march, could still bring in food items and participate in the 5k, 10k, or 30k runs.
“It means a lot. Especially for the Colorado Springs community, because it’s so heavy veteran, so heavy military… Having an opportunity for us to all come together and heal and remember and celebrate the lives of those that gave the ultimate sacrifice is a big deal,” said Garza.