AP NEWS

Ruck 22 event in Florence to highlight problem of veteran suicides

March 28, 2019

FLORENCE, S.C. — Plans are coming together for April 6′s 22K Ruck 22 to highlight the problem of veteran suicides.

Shawn Laurie, who is organizing the event, said that while a few issues remain to be finalized the event is, for the most part, set.

The inaugural event will take place in the Florence Center parking adjacent to the Florence Veterans Park and feature a 13-mile, 22 kilometer, hike, Laurie said. The route of the hike will be out Radio Road to Ebenezer Road and then likely back in on the Florence Rail Trail. Two laps of that course will equal 22 kilometers, Laurie said.

He is still working with the city of Florence to get permission to use the trail, Laurie said.

The Saturday event will launch at 4 a.m. with ruck registration and then the hikers will depart the parking lot at 6:30 a.m.

Laurie said he hoped to have the hikers off the trail by 11:30 a.m. for speakers and lunch in the parking lot.

In addition to the hike there will be vendors on hand and will include the National Guard, HopeHealth, the Veterans Administration, Pepsi, Sunbelt Rentals and Walgreens, Laurie said.

The National Guard is expected to bring a water buffalo, an ambulance and a gaming truck for the kids, Laurie said.

There will be raffles throughout the late morning and into the afternoon, he said.

“I’ve been doing a lot of work with them [HopeHealth and veterans issues],” Laurie said.

“It’s really coming together,” he said.

About 40 people are signed up for the hike, for which hikers will need to wear a ruck sack. In the sack, or book bag even, hikers could put anything from towels to water bottles, though he said if any hard-core hikers want to build out a 60-pound sack they’d be more than welcome to.

Because part of the hike will take place before sunrise Laurie encouraged participants to wear something reflective and take a flashing light and a flashlight so they can see and be seen.

Those who participate will get a T-shirt and those who finish a medal, Laurie said.

“If the event’s a success, we’ve raised awareness and people know we’re trying to make a difference and that’s all that matters. If that happens it’s a good thing,” Laurie said.

“It’s my goal, it’s my dream. I feel everything I do, the video I do, as far as helping veterans is not just for drug addicts and recoveries and PTSD and anxiety,” Laurie said. “What it comes down to is helping to find purpose again in your life. That’s to help you off the drugs, help you with anxiety or PTSD. There’s more to life than just one purpose. You served your time, now let’s find you another purpose that can do some great in the community. Get veterans to think that way and things get a little bit better.”

For more information on the event, contact Laurie on Facebook at facebook.com/ShawnTheVeteranGuy/.