Founded by a pair of veteran U.S. Navy SEALs, Clint Bruce and Stephen Holley, Carry The Load started with a mission to restore the true meaning of Memorial Day after an experience Bruce had back on Memorial Day of 2010.
“It came on the heels of losing some good friends of ours,” explained Holley of the nonprofit’s founding a decade ago.
Bruce’s experience led to a vision for an event where people could come out and have a meaningful Memorial Day experience.
“We started this event to have a meaningful Memorial Day and to remember our friends who made that ultimate sacrifice,” said Holley.
The organization provides an active way for Americans to honor the sacrifices made by our military, veterans, first responders, and their families. Since its inception, it has generated more than $10 million in peer-to-peer funds that help with the many challenges veterans and their families face.
The nonprofit’s flagship event, the Dallas Memorial March, typically has about 30,000 participants on Memorial Day weekend. The event takes place over a 20 hour period from the Sunday night before Memorial Day to Memorial Day itself. Four national relays lead up to the Dallas event.
“At all those events, we raise awareness for Memorial Day, we raise awareness for Carry The Load,” said Holley. “Through those events, we raise money for other nonprofits that support military veterans, law enforcement, fire and rescue, first responders and their families.”
The other nonprofits Carry The Load supports provide an array of resources across a variety of programs.
“No one would have imagined it would have grown the way it has over the last 10 years,” he added. “People wanted Memorial Day to be more than a three-day weekend that kicked off the summer.”
During the height of the pandemic last year, Holley said the organization
had virtual events in 50 cities around the country and in 46 out of 50 states.
“Wherever people live across the United States, there will be a rally, there will be a relay, there will be a Carry The Load event,” Holley said. “The pandemic showed us how important our event had become to people around the country.”
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Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com.