Flag's cross-country journey raises funds for children of fallen heroes

Memorial Day is a day to reflect and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and for one organization, an opportunity to give back to the loved ones they left behind.

PepsiCo truck drivers – who are also U.S. military veterans – just finished their fourth annual “Rolling Remembrance” relay, raising funds for the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, which provides college scholarships and educational counseling for Gold Star children who lost a parent in the line of duty.

“Rolling Remembrance allows us to recognize the sacrifices of veterans and their families and contribute to a cause we believe in deeply. It is an honor to also have the ability to involve our own employees who have served their country, whether it’s by giving them the opportunity to drive a leg of the trip or organizing events along the route,” said Jim Farrell, PepsiCo Vice President of Logistics, Distribution, and Transportation.

Rolling Remembrance, a partnership between PepsiCo and the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, had a ceremony in Bradenton, FL along the 8,000-mile cross-country relay to raise college scholarship funds for Gold Star children.

Rolling Remembrance, a partnership between PepsiCo and the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, had a ceremony in Bradenton, FL along the 8,000-mile cross-country relay to raise college scholarship funds for Gold Star children. (Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation)

This year, 37 PepsiCo drivers transported an American flag, originally flown on a UH-60M Blackhawk Helicopter in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, on an 8,000-mile cross-country relay from Seattle to White Plains, NY making 50 stops along the month-long journey.

Rolling Remembrance raised over $200,000 for Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation. Since 2002, the foundation has raised more than $21 million in total assistance, including college scholarships, grants and educational counseling for more than 1,000 Gold Star kids.

One of the PepsiCo transport drivers, William Whitlock, an Air Force intelligence analyst who served in the 80s, said he jumped at the opportunity to participate in Rolling Remembrance.

“In daily life, the general awareness of our armed services can tend to fade into the background,” Whitlock, the Tampa, Florida representative, said. “With that, we forget about our soldiers, veterans and survivors. We forget about the fallen and their families. Rolling Remembrance and Children of Fallen Patriots wants to bring back to the forefront this Memorial Day.”

For Whitlock, transporting the flag and raising awareness for the organization is about honoring his fallen brothers and sisters in arms and their children that go through the added challenges of losing a parent.

“I proudly displayed that flag on the dashboard of my truck as I drove my segment of the relay, and I hope that everyone on the road that day not only looked at the special trailer we have, but sees it and reads it and checks out Children of Fallen Patriots and supports it,” he said. “For me, it's duty and love…No man left behind.”