‘Carry the Load’ walking across country to honor veterans, military members and first responders


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — All across the country, people are embarking on an 11,500 mile trek for “Carry the Load.”

It’s all to honor the sacrifices of our nation’s military, veterans and first responders.

“Carry the Load” started in 2011 by two Navy SEALs who felt like the true meaning of Memorial Day was overshadowed by cookouts, sales and celebrations. They started an event in Dallas that has spread to 40 states, reminding people of the day’s true meaning.

“All of us that have lost someone, whether it be a law enforcement, firefighter, or military member, we have that emotional loss, we have that emotional weight so that’s something that we carry with us,” said Stacy James, who served in the Air Force and is now a medic with Carry the Load. “I carry 210 total individuals.”

Dealing with loss is common for first responders, military members, veterans and their families.

James said, “It’s an emotional healing process to where I realized that I’m not by myself and they realized that they’re not by themselves as well.”

Since the group started in 2011, it’s spread to a three-team, 32-day, more than 11,000 mile relay across the country.

“They’re showing support for people like myself,” said James. “They’re showing support for others that are struggling.”

Williamsburg resident and Army veteran Lee Grimsley decided to join part of Wednesday’s journey from Norfolk to Virginia Beach.

“What a way to support the communities and help the folks that put their lives on the line everyday,” said Grimsley. 

Their “Memorial May” campaign is not just about the walk and carrying the load, it’s about remembering the true meaning of Memorial Day. 

“We tend to forget what that day was given to us to do and that was to honor our heroes,” said James.  “Take just a moment and recognize what it is and why that day is given to them.”

That’s why the group continues to walk, hoping their message hits home.

The three teams will meet up in Dallas on Memorial Day Weekend for a 20-hour relay.  

To date, the group has raised more than $21 million that goes toward the group’s awarenes, continuum of care, and education programs.

The walk will continue in Raleigh, N.C. on Thursday. 

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