Operation Veterans Helping Veterans holds fifth fundraising ruck

| November 12, 2021

Operation Veterans Helping Veterans held its fifth annual ruck march on Friday, Nov. 12. They walked from Ridgewood High School to Newcomerstown High School – a distance of 8.8 miles. (Jen Jones)

Volunteers sign participants up for the Operation Veterans Helping Veterans Ruck on Nov. 12. The march began at Ridgewood High School and they walked 8.8 miles to Newcomerstown High School. (Jen Jones)

A “ruck march” is a term used by the military to describe a training to help members stay fit and make sure their gear works. They carry all of their necessities in a backpack and are gone for three or four days. Five years ago, the idea of a fundraising “ruck” began.

Operation Veterans Helping Veterans held its fifth ruck on Nov. 12. The group hiked from Ridgewood High School to Newcomerstown High School – a distance of about 8.8 miles. Zac Miller, board member for OVHV, said, “We switch where we start from each year. Last year, we started at Newcomerstown and walked to Ridgewood.” Miller said there are rest breaks during the walk and some people do choose to wear backpacks.

OVHV is a local non-profit that raises money to help veterans in the area. Miller also works for Coshocton County Veterans’ Services so when a veteran needs help, he can find resources from both the county office and OVHV. This ruck is their fall fundraiser, and they have a golf outing in the spring.

The ruck is usually held on the Friday of the week Veteran’s Day falls in. An assembly was held in the gym at Ridgewood before the walk began. Stephanie Hawkins, with OVHV, said last year, they had 32 participants, so they printed 75 flyers for the ruck. “We had to get more copies. This is just crazy and amazing.”  She estimated there were between 90-100 walkers for this year’s ruck march.

Destiny Davis is a senior at Newcomerstown High School. “I’m going into the Marine Corps, and this helps support our troops.” When asked what she thought about hiking almost 12 miles in the cold, she said, “Our veterans did much worse to fight for our country.” Mackenzie Worthington is also a senior at Newcomerstown and said she wanted to be part of the ruck because her uncle is in the Army, and he had done the ruck walk before. “My uncle was in combat and saw some things – this is just a piece of cake.”

For more information on Operation Veterans Helping Veterans or to make a donation to the non-profit, visit their Facebook page. You can also mail a check to Stephanie Hawkins, 22291 Valley View Drive, West Lafayette, OH 43845.

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