CITRUS HEIGHTS, Calif. (KTXL) — A group of people walking down the entire West Coast made several stops Tuesday in Sacramento.
“It’s a great feeling to have a big crowd walking down the street,” said Jason Dickens. “People are honking, giving us a thumbs up.”
But the 5 miles were just one leg of a relay that spans the entire West Coast.
“The purpose of our relay from Seattle to Dallas is so that people get a chance to actively participate in remembering people who have died in action, either first responders here in the states or our military members overseas,” Dickens said.
It’s called Carry the Load and it started 10 years ago with a pair of Navy SEALs.
“They were angry about friends they’d lost and they felt the true meaning of Memorial Day had been lost,” said Michael “Goldy” Golden, the Carry the Load West Coast relay manager. “So they got together and put on backpacks, put weights in those backpacks and started to walk.”
Over the past decade, Carry the Load has branched off into four different relays all over the country.
The organization has raised more than $28 million to donate to charities for veterans and first responders.
On each leg of the relay new people join in, carrying weighted backpacks and dedicating their miles to the memory of someone who either died in the line of duty or lost their life to PTSD after serving.
“Some guys, we may not lose them in the fight, but we lose them afterwards once they get home,” Dickens told FOX40. “So the more awareness we can bring in carrying the load and spreading the word, the more lives we can save.”
One of the organizers FOX40 spoke with Tuesday morning was dedicating his relay — all the way from Washington to Texas— to Officer Natalie Corona who died in the line of duty back in 2019 while serving in the Davis Police Department.
“It’s been said that people die twice, one when they physically pass and the second time is when their name or their story is last told. And we keep peoples’ stories alive,” Golden said.