Updated: March 31, 2021 11:43 PM
Created: March 30, 2021 01:31 PM
After going virtual last year 23rd Veteran's Nearly Naked Ruck March returned to Duluth's Skyline Parkway on Saturday. A number of in-person ruckers battled snow and rain for miles because, for them, the event means more than a fitness challenge.
For 10 miles veterans, active duty soldiers, and military supporters carried up to 50 pounds of donatable goods in a pack on their backs for the 6th annual Nearly Naked Ruck March fitness fundraiser.
"I'm enjoying it, I really am," said Joseph Talarico of Proctor. "It's for a good cause. I kind of came into it blind, set up with a friend's group, but I'm enjoying every moment of it so I'm glad to be here."
Along with their packs many ruckers carried memories of loved one's lost all too soon.
"I'm the widow of Jacob Crebessa. We're both doing it for Jake, you know not just for Jake but for all the other ones that go to heaven way too soon," said Marie Crebessa, a long time participant in the March.
"23rd Veteran focuses on supporting veterans that are isolated that have struggle being out in the community, so our programs are designed to bring people out and socialize together," said Mike Waldron, executive director of 23rd Veteran. "So it's been very difficult with the pandemic on our veterans."
Around 250 ruckers walked the walk in snow and rain all in an effort to help de-stigmatize mental health struggles that some veterans have.
"It's taken leaps and bounds and getting better every year so I'm happy to be supporting it and I'm glad people aren't afraid to seek help now," said Talarico.
"My son is in the 148th up here," Jim Maslowksi from Cloquet said. "It's just something to do to help our soldiers when they come home."
So far in-person and virtual ruckers have helped raise over $145,000 of 23rd Veterans' $150,000 goal.
All of the proceeds from the March will go towards providing programs for local veterans.
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