MILLEDGEVILLE — Two army scout veterans shifted their fight from the battlefield to the open road. Starting Feb. 4 in Myrtle Beach, S.C. and hopefully ending 3,000 miles later in San Francisco, Calif., Wayne Whitbeck and James Allred see cancer’s cure step by step.
The non-profit, Ruck for a Cure, has a lofty $50,000 fundraising goal. All proceeds go specifically for cancer research at St. Jude Children Research Hospital.
Whitbeck’s father lost his life to a brain tumor last January and Allred’s mother continues her battle against the disease as well. The scout and ex-drill sergeant buddies established this new mission with family and awareness in mind.
“I wanted to do something kind of epic in his name,” Whitbeck said. “I said ‘well, I’ll walk across the country.’ Whether we raise $1 or we hit our mark at $50,000, somebody will benefit from it.”
The guys camped out at Milledgeville’s Little River Park briefly on the trek toward Macon this evening. They hope to enter Alabama within eight days.
The route gets modified constantly, according to Whitbeck. A support vehicle accommodates the participants. Since the initial third team member support driver pulled out, Allred and Whitbeck take turns.
Most days, the Ruck for a Cure twosome logs 20 miles. On average the men stay at a given rest spot for two days.
Every step is taken with a 30-pound ruck and standard boots provided by U.S. Patriot Tactical. The army buddies completed several 20- and a 100-mile ruck march events in preparation for the big one.
Recent cold, soggy weather has added strain, but the men are more than suited for the grind.
“The rain is defeating, especially the cold rain in the morning. You have to get the miles done,” Whitbeck said.
Allred said the opening weeks set a consistent pace, as their bodies locked in the daily routine. The feet have plenty of hard work calluses.
“I’ve been working toward getting my feet in a good rhythm and my pace set. It’s been pretty smooth,” Allred said.
Making friends and spreading the word across every town makes the walk anything but monotonous. Well-wishers, who know about the cause, offer verbal support and much-loved donations.
“We will always stop regardless of where we are at rucking to speak with fans and tell them about what we are doing,” Allred said. “The miles are secondary to seeing everyone and being personal.”
Both men see each donation and mile shifting the fight near the “One Step Closer” to a cure motto.
Whitbeck and Allred have heard it all from support to jeers about not finishing. As competitive scouts, they envision nothing short of making San Francisco.
Their sons are rooting the hardest and could join the physical march later.
“We are both looking forward to having our sons walk with us at some point during the summer time,” Allred said. “Having quality time together with them is something we are both very proud of.”
A scorching July walk through the Mojave Desert will test all support services and back up plans. An observer could never say these veterans lacked foresight at any moment.
They believe in the cause and each other. The teammates established a brotherhood over the last 10 years, and Whitbeck said he couldn’t be more thankful to attack the journey with Allred.
“It’s a once in a lifetime adventure for both of us,” Whitbeck said. “Who can say they ruck marched across the country?”
Donations can be made at www.ruckforacure.org. Status updates and locations are on the website and the Facebook fan page.
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