ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – A new nonprofit in Abilene, geared towards Veterans of the Big Country, is putting on a different kind of race to raise funds and awareness for a good cause. It’s called a ‘ruck run.’

Spence Pittman described the ruck run as marching with your best buds, wearing an 80-pound backpack. Ruck Runs are something Pittman and his new nonprofit, Embrace the Ruck Foundation, do frequently. They are a group of eight service members aiming to help other Vets find their purpose outside of the service.

“We can get together and ruck,” Pittman said. “I think that’s the best thing for families who have lost loved ones and veterans outside of service.”

Pittman told KTAB/KRBC that his personal goal and hope with this nonprofit is to carry on the memory of his grandfather, Lieutenant Joseph ‘Pete’ W. Spence, Phd, who died while serving. His goal is similar to that of Donna Kleman, President of Surviving Families of Fallen Warriors.

“We lost our daughter while serving. She had three tours in Iraq and she is a recipient of the bronze star,” Kleman said.

Kleman said she was left with two choices when her daughter passed away.

“I could either drop dead of a broken heart,” Kleman began, “or I could move forward and carry on her legacy.”

Kleman and her husband founded Surviving Families of Fallen Warriors in Abilene to do just that.

“It’s all funded through the run that we do the OORAH Warrior 5k running free run,” Kleman said.

The nonprofit’s president said they also received help this year from a new partner.

“We’re partnering with Surviving families of Fallen Warriors and a few other sponsors,” Pittman said.
The two organizations decided to team up to reflect upon and meet their goals.

“Being able to carry that wait signifies, not only the actual physical weight, but also the mental weight that a lot of service members do carry,” said Shaunassy Jones, Event Coordinator for Embrace the Ruck Foundation.

The run will take place Saturday, May 21 at Nelson Park. It will include a Family Fun Run and Rucking for Vets. The 5K is dedicated to Lt. Col. William E. Dyess, namesake of Dyess Air Force Base.