TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - It’s not where they are walking to, but who they are walking for that matters.
“You die twice. Once when you really die, the second when your name leaves the lips of your loved ones and friends, so we don’t want that to happen," said Tom Wendling, a retired firefighter from Dallas, Texas and a member of the West Coast team for the Carry the Load relay.
The team walked through Tucson Monday in support of our nation’s heroes.
Founded in 2011 by two Veteran U.S. Navy SEALs, Carry The Load’s mission has been to restore the true meaning of Memorial Day.
The non-profit organization is dedicated to providing active, meaningful ways to honor and celebrate the sacrifices made by our nation’s heroes - military, veterans, first responders and their families.
The event has grown from a local Dallas march into a national movement to honor and remember those who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.
This year, three relay teams will move for 32 days, covering 40 states and 11,500 miles to honor and remember those who laid their lives down for our freedom.
“Even just by speaking those guys name, or writing it on one of our placards, we are keeping those families alive," said David Lindsey, a firefighter from Dallas, Texas. For Lindsey, the path he walks is personal.
“When my cousin died in the fire, I said the only thing he did wrong that way was go to work," said Lindsey.
After losing a family member in the line of duty, Lindsey and his family created a foundation in his memory. That organization is now a partner with Carry the Load.
Lindsey joined the West Coast team over the weekend to share the 4,600 miles from Seattle, Washington to Dallas, Texas.
“What do these miles mean to me? Um, that we are never going to forget," said Lindsey.
Never forget, by carrying the load of those who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty.
Wendling started in Seattle 19 days ago and won’t slow down. After four relays, this is the first time he is part of a team from start to finish.
“Every mile that I have the opportunity to carry for someone... will stay with me for the rest of the my life," said Wendling.
Carry The Load has raised $21.7 million since 2011. The organization said 93.14% goes toward Carry The Load’s Awareness, Continuum of Care and Education programs.