The Freedom 500

The Freedom 500’s ultimate aim is to recognize and celebrate the sacrifice made by those Soldiers wounded, killed or otherwise scarred by combat. We want to raise money and awareness for veterans and remember the vitality of those who gave all by challenging them to serve again. All donations will go directly to The Mission Continues.

We are a small group of Army Officers running from Duke University in Durham, NC to Ground Zero, New York City from the 11th to the 17th of August, 2013. We attended Duke and can think of no more-fitting location to begin our journey. Stepping off from Duke’s Memorial Quadrangle, we will be headed to a place inspirational to our service: One World Trade Center. Along the way, we will pass through Arlington National Cemetery to honor our fallen and stop by Walter Reed Army Medical Center to visit our wounded—some of whom we recently fought alongside. One of us will be on the ground, pounding pavement 24/7, from the first step through the final one: a perpetual vigil of respect and endurance.

The route is around 500 miles, a 6-day journey. We’ve done the math, tightened our shoelaces and are excited to hit the road! We will use a two-vehicle support system: one vehicle will support runners who are actively “on-shift” while the other will scout the route ahead and allow the “off-shift” runners to get some rest. Each vehicle will be operated by two “fixers” so one can navigate and handle logistics while the other drives.

There will be a kick-off event on the Chapel Quad on August 11th which will include live music, guest speakers, and a 5K fundraising run coinciding with the 2:00 start of The Freedom 500 itself.

There will be a finish-line party in New York City on the night of August 17th to formally conclude the relay and celebrate the event. The idea of the party will be to recap the relay’s 500 miles through videos, photos, Facebook posts, and e-mails acquired throughout the journey. We will seek out guest speakers, wounded warriors, friends, family and supporters for one final fundraising opportunity and to celebrate the successful completion of what will surely be a most-memorable and meaningful endeavor.

To buy tickets to this event, please visit:

We all met as wide-eyed Cadets in Duke University’s Blue Devil ROTC Battalion. Our friendship began while training in North Carolina’s pine forests and dragging each other to countless early-morning PT sessions. After commissioning as Lieutenants, we were scattered around the globe according to the Army’s needs and willingly tossed—each with his very own, specially ordered trajectory—into situations that have challenged, forged, and inspired us. Four of us have served for a total of four and a half years in Afghanistan as Platoon Leaders and Company Executive Officers. One of us has spent a year in the Middle East scanning the skies for errant missiles. And one of us—taking the Reserve route and perhaps ironically absorbing more leadership experience than all of us combined— has managed to earn a Duke Basketball National Championship Ring and a trip to the Final Four as one of Coach-K’s hand-picked assistants. Despite our varied Army experiences, we’re united by the countless peers, subordinates, leaders, families and friends we’ve seen touched by war. The strength of these Soldiers and their families affected keeps us honest, humbled, and focused. We’ve been searching for an outlet for our collective purpose and energy that might, in some way, faithfully reflect the sacrifice they have made in our Nation’s name.

Our Nation’s wounded and fallen sacrificed for the buddies next to them. We wish to continue the fight for all our fellow Soldiers—those unscathed, wounded and killed alike. This fight has an added urgency as many veterans of current wars begin the daunting transition to life in the civilian world. The Mission Continues, by challenging veterans to translate service to their Nation into service to their communities, seems a natural beneficiary for the funds our event raises. We would be honored to support such a noble cause and have partnered with The Mission Continues, donating 100% of monetary contributions to the organization. Look 'em up!


The Mission Continues is a national nonprofit that supports post-9/11 veterans in their transition home. By awarding 6-month community service fellowships for veterans to serve at nonprofits in their communities, The Mission Continues empowers veterans to identify a renewed sense of purpose while working towards a post-fellowship goal of full time employment and/or pursuit of higher education, while maintaining a permanent role of public service. Since its inception in 2007, The Mission Continues has awarded over 600 fellowships in 42 states across the country aiding veterans in successfully serving with nonprofits such as the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity and Big Brother Big Sisters.

*If you would like to make a donation by check and bypass the credit card transaction fee, please make it payable directly to The Mission Continues, and memo: "The Freedom 500." Here is the mailing address:

The Mission Continues
1141 S. 7th Street
St. Louis, MO 63104


twitter: @thefreedom500


Seth Brown, Phil Cotter, Kase Diehl, Jon Harless, Matt Jones, Michael Meehan, and Pat Thompson


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