COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — A group of some 30-40 special forces soldiers from Fort Carson are in the middle of a 50-mile long ruck march through New York City this weekend.
The 50 For the Fallen event was organized by Chad Conley, an active-duty Green Beret. The march began Friday afternoon at Yankees Stadium and will finish Saturday morning at Ground Zero. The group plans to visit four of the city's five boroughs along the way.
Conley said the event gives the men participating a chance to help themselves by doing good for others.
"It's not about the movement or the mileage really, it's about the time we have together to remember those who have gone before us," he said.
The soldiers are raising money for charity. Those who wish to support their cause are asked to give to the Special Operations Warriors Foundation which helps Gold Star Families within the special forces community, and the Ray Pfeifer Foundation which supports families of 9/11 victims and those who continue to suffer health problems connected to the terror attacks.
Speaking with News 5 shortly after arriving in Queens, Conley said Friday that he was grateful for the support they're received along the march.
"The biggest thing that I can say is the gratitude that we're feeling out of New York City is just overflowing and bubbling, everybody has been cheering us on," he said.
The march is sponsored, in part, by Distillery 291 in Colorado Springs. The company was founded on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 by a former New Yorker who survived the attacks a decade earlier.
"They were actually living two blocks away from the Trade Center at that time, Michael and his family were in the midst of 9/11 that who entire day," said Philip Rawleigh, Brand Ambassador for Distillery 291. "Luckily, he was able to get everyone together and bring everyone safely here to Colorado."
When founder Michael Myers pulled his first whiskey still on September 11 of 2011, he replaced a painful memory with a happier one. Conley said the idea of creating a better memory has a powerful appeal.
Like many American service members, Conley joined the military after the terror attacks. He sees symbolism and therapeutic value in the 50-mile long march carry a full rucksack.
"You really get to the heart of some of the things that we're carrying," he said. "I think that if we can unload some of that emotional baggage in 50 miles, guys are going to come out better."