Honoring Veterans: Living Free Together holding Ruck the Ridge
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Bringing the family back together is what one local nonprofit is helping veterans in the Charlottesville area do.
“If you don’t think Charlottesville’s a military town, then you just need to keep looking, lift some rocks up because there are military people everywhere and military families,” founder and executive director of Living Free Together, programs for military families, Tonya King said.
Honoring veterans starts at home. And one veteran-focused nonprofit is to here to help local military families succeed together, from the table to the field.
“You can never make up time. Time is fleeting and you don’t get it back. But what we hope to do is give families the opportunity to sit down together. Have a meal together. Talk openly together. And be honest about who they are now. Not who they were before deployment. Not who they wish they could be,” King said.
Since 2015, Living Free Together has helped all military service members, and their family members, find their way back into “normal” life.
“That’s just what we try to offer, is the opportunity to have that initial conversation, or that experience that reminds everyone, oh right, that’s who I am. That’s who I want to be,” King said.
It's a way to honor both the service members and their families.
“To celebrate that sacrifice and service are the things that make us strong. I’m sorry. And it’s what will make us great. So, that’s what we want to do,” King said.
In honor of Veteran's Day, roughly 200 people are preparing for this Saturday’s second annual “Ruck the Ridge” event.
“A ruck is what I like to call the military’s way for ruining a really nice hike through the woods,” King said.
Ruck the Ridge is a fundraising event, aimed to honor veterans, active duty military, first responders, and their families, by bringing the whole community together.
Retired Marine Corps Veteran John Bruggeman is putting the course together.
“So, we’ve tried to really focus this event on a reflection of, and recognition of, the service and sacrifice of our military families and also our first responders. So, it’s sort of a celebration of those commitments those families have made to all of us,” Bruggeman said.
But this military-style hike is not for the faint of heart. The course this year is extra challenging with more obstacles and the option of four-, six-, or eight-mile trails.
“It is more challenging. So, this year, we’ve designed a specific eight-mile loop, which has a little bit more change of elevation in it, so added a couple of extra hills. And it will be more challenging than the one last year, but still, easily manageable for somebody who’s an experienced hiker or does other types of endurance activities. And again, you don’t have to load your backpack up with a lot of weight. You can go out there with no backpack at all. Just carry your water bottle and go for an 8-mile hike through the woods. And it’ll be terrific,” Bruggeman said.
And this unique RuckFest is free for the whole family to enjoy. There will be food trucks, music, bounce houses, a petting zoo and more. The only thing you have to pay for is competing in the rucking event.
For more information on this event and how to sign up, click here.