Rucking for Fun? It's how one family spent their weekend to raise money for Navy SEALS

Julia LeDoux
January 07, 2019 - 2:06 pm

Julia LeDoux


They answer the call when America needs help, but sometimes members of one of the nation’s most elite military units can use a little assistance.

Navy SEALs are arguably the best of the best (no offense, Green Berets, Army Rangers, Delta Force). When brothers Vic and Benjamin Wise of Virginia and their family learned that the community could always use help, they literally put their feet to the test.

For the 6th year in a row, the Wises and a group of their friends have made the 105-mile trek from Richmond to Arlington National Cemetery on foot, raising money for the Navy SEAL Foundation,  which provides immediate and ongoing support and assistance to the Naval Special Warfare Community and its families. 

Kate Magee Joyce

Known as the Freedom Ruck , the group began its journey this year at the Virginia War Memorial on January 4, arriving at Arlington National Cemetery on Sunday, January 6.

“They are bad asses,” Vic said of the Navy SEALS during a brief stop along Route 1 in Stafford County, Virginia Saturday afternoon. “They are bad asses all the way. But, the Navy Seal Foundation really serves the families as well, so if there was something to happen they just look out for the community.”

Vic began learning about needs in the SEAL community a couple of years ago when a Navy SEAL buddy of his returned from a deployment. The friends began talking about how the SEAL community could be helped – and Freedom Ruck was born.

Vic began brainstorming events that would not only challenge himself both mentally and physically but would also get people’s attention.

“A 100-mile journey was what he came up with,” said Benjamin.

The first year, it was only Vic and members of the Wise family, but over the years the effort has grown. This year, 12 men and women made the walk, along with a support team that kept the group hydrated, healthy and fed along the way.

So, how do you get ready for a 100 plus mile walk?

“Foot powder, lots of it,” Vic said with a laugh. “There’s really no formula. It gets to a point where it’s all mental. It’s all about foot care, obviously, there’s a physical component to it. Embrace the journey is what we say.”

Kate Magee Joyce

The group encountered rainy weather for most of Friday night and into Saturday morning, but by Sunday the skies had cleared and the sun was shining.

“We’re not out here for us, we’re not out here for the publicity,” said Benjamin. “We’re out here to support and to try to tell people to support these guys and their family who sacrifice so much. A lot of people don’t really see that.

“It’s cool to be part of something that is better than yourself.”

The Wises said over the past five years Freedom Ruck has raised more than $40,000 for the foundation.

“We love the veterans, we support the veterans, the military and their families,” Benjamin said.

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