Carry the Load Walk honors servicemembers, veterans and first responders

Published: May. 26, 2023 at 10:06 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - The nonprofit Carry The Load raises awareness of the true meaning of Memorial Day.

The Carry The Load Walk took place in Lake Charles earlier today as an active way to connect people to the sacrifices of military members, veterans and first responders. The group walked from McNeese campus to Veterans Memorial Park at the lakefront.

Carry The Load was founded in 2011 by U.S. Navy Seals Clint Bruce and Stephen Holly. After returning home from service, they were disappointed at how Memorial Day was being celebrated.

“It’s not a mattress sale, it’s not a three-day weekend, it’s not a backyard barbecue. All those things are fine, but Memorial Day is a day of honor and remembrance of those that we’ve lost,” said Jason Santos, East Coast relay manager for Carry The Load.

The Carry The Load Walk spans 20,000 miles, 48 states and 85 rallies across the country.

“We love it when people just come out and walk with us, share their stories,” said Santos. “You want to share about your loved ones, your family, your friends, brothers or sisters that you lost during service, come out, walk with us.”

The organization raised $2 million last year and hopes to raise $2.25 million this year.

“$0.93 out of every dollar donated, goes right back out to our nonprofit partners to help deliver service,” said Santos. “There’s not a lot of organizations out there that can say that, and that’s something we’re very proud of.”

Veteran Hector Ponton served in the military for 36 years. He said he is very honored by the event.

“Not just me, but the military as a whole is being recognized as a positive as a positive entity and part of the armed forces are definitely a crucial part of the United States of America, no question about that,” said Ponton.

Carry The Load officials say their goals are to raise awareness of those who sacrifice for us, raise funds to provide healing services and inspire patriotism in youth.