At 7:30 in the morning of Jan. 5, Vic Wise began the day with an incredible physical challenge — not a grueling gym workout, but the fifth annual Freedom Ruck.
Wise, the son and brother of U.S. Army Rangers, set out to travel 106 miles on foot from the Virginia War Memorial in Richmond, Va., to Arlington National Cemetery in just 48 hours — carrying a heavy rucksack and an American Flag — as a patriotic initiative to raise funds and awareness for the Navy SEAL Foundation.
“The goal of Freedom Ruck is to simply say thank you. We try to lead by example and inspire folks to stand behind these heroes and their families,” Wise said in an interview with Fox News. “Our hope is to rally the public to take action. Our servicemen and women deserve to know how much we appreciate what they do.”
Wise told Fox News he was inspired to launch the project in honor of his best friend, who currently serves as a Navy SEAL. Learning more about the elite program as his friend trained for admission, Wise felt compelled to do something for the Navy SEAL Foundation, which supports the entire SEAL community, from members to personnel and their families.
To date, Freedom Ruck has raised over $30,000 for the cause, according to their website.
Raised with a “very strong appreciation for the sacrifice and respect of our armed forces,” Wise launched the inaugural Freedom Ruck on “something of a whim” in 2014, making the first trek alone from Richmond to Arlington on Route 1. In the pouring rain in 38 degree temperatures, Wise didn’t anticipate the support he found along the way, from Fredericksburg to Alexandria.
“People would show up with hot chocolate, donations or food, and be glad to walk with you for a little bit. We had 15 to 20 people walking at one point, and that just shows the power of community,” Wise told Fox of the “humbling experience.” This year, he’ll be joined by friends Alex Miller, Robert Davies and Wayne Paxton, as well as James Lafferty, Matt Zurat and brother Ben, who are proudly retired or active military personnel.
Though the physical toll is fierce and Wise reveals that “there’s really no way to prepare” for the journey, he consults celebrity fitness and nutrition trainer Decker Davis for endurance advice. Davis personally works for Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russel Wilson, who Wise manages.
Wise said that Wilson will be following along the journey on social media and encourages others to do the same.
“Whether you’re from a military family or not, affiliated with the military or not, everyone can help make a difference,” Wise said.