Vic Wise Turned Thought Into Action, Showing Our Servicemen And Women How Much We Care

"It’s humbling ... to know that what was once a small idea can make such large impact."

As Russell Wilson's manager and COO of West2East Empire, Vic Wise started Freedom Ruck five years ago with a vision to create an event that inspired others to express their patriotism and give thanks to our service members. With the help of countless others and, of course, his badass cousin Val, they have created something special. Humbled by the immense support, he hopes to see Freedom Ruck grow by inspiring more people to proudly display their flags, and volunteer with or donate to an organization with which they can relate. Below, he reflects on this endeavor.

Freedom Ruck. A cause I started to say thank you to our servicemen and women. I had the desire to do something that has never been done before, thinking it would help make a reasonable impact. In my opinion, these brave citizens — along with their families — can be underappreciated for the sacrifices that they make so that we can live free.

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When you have a family member in the armed forces, you experience this sacrifice first-hand every day. For me, I've seen my dad and brother, along with extended family and friends, be deployed. While I never took that path, it's always felt important for me to let my loved ones know how appreciative I am for their service. While this sacrifice is not as close to home for some, it's been heartwarming to see the overwhelming response and outpour of support over the past five years. 

With Freedom Ruck, I hoped to start something that served as a reminder to the nation that we have men and women in harm's way on a daily basis, and we need to do everything that we can to have their back. They fearlessly protect our country and expect nothing in return. Thus, I chose to take their lead and encourage change as well as lead by example. We ruck to remind others the importance of our support as a nation.

Courtesy of Rebecca Cunningham Photography

The goal of Freedom Ruck is to bring our community together for a common cause and to inspire others to act. I'm both honored and humbled that this event has raised nearly $35,000 over the course of five years, but I am more so proud of the support for those who fight for our freedom. I challenge others to step out of your comfort zone, learn about yourself, and try something new to pursue your passions. I've learned more about myself through one Freedom Ruck — both mentally and physically — than I have in five years of living. 

While I was told "no" so many times before the first Freedom Ruck, I learned that if you fear failure, you'll never know if you can succeed. You are capable of making a difference, no matter what the situation. I have a personal motto in my life: "Always finish strong." Every year, we run at least the last mile of the 106-mile journey to show ourselves and others we are capable of whatever we set our mind to. It's inspiring to know that members of the armed forces take the necessary measures to step out of their comfort zone and make the impossible a reality every day to protect our freedom, and I hope to motivate others to act on creating awareness for their passions.

Courtesy of Rebecca Cunningham Photography

To complete five years of Freedom Ruck, I feel extremely blessed. Freedom Ruck takes tremendous efforts personally, physically, and for everyone involved. I'm beyond appreciative of the supporters who come out every year to hand out water or honk as they drive by. I'm also thankful for the police escorts who are crucial to our safety, those who send notes on social media as words of encouragement, and, ultimately, the donations that we're able to send to the Navy SEAL Foundation.

When I sit back and think about it, it's a true blessing to know so many people took something I was passionate about and became involved in whatever way they felt driven to do so. It's humbling, to say the least, to know that what was once a small idea can make such large impact. Ruck On!

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