DALLAS — This year's Carry the Load march from West Point, New York to Dallas ended in success on Memorial Day.
The biggest crowds ever gathered Monday at Reverchon Park. The relay actually arrived on Sunday, and marchers proceeded to walk another 20 hours non-stop along the Katy Trail.
They raised more than $1.08 million for fallen service members and first responders and the families they left behind.
Thousands participated along the route. Firefighters, law enforcement officers, service members and civilians marched with a goal of restoring luster to the word "sacrifice."
George and Kristi Buttler came from the Mid-Cities to take part in the 20-mile march on the Katy Trail.
"We’re walking for several friends of ours who have family members who didn’t make it back," they told News 8.
Kristi called the march "emotional," but quickly added: "It makes you feel proud... exhausted.”
They were inspired along the way by walkers like Jake Schick, an Iraqi War veteran who sustained severe injuries as a Marine. Despite more than 40 surgeries, he still participated in the Carry the Load relay. "It’s pain, but you know you’re alive... that’s why we’re out here," he said. "It’s stinging a little bit right now, I got to be honest, but it’s motivation. It’s for my fallen brothers and sisters. It’s why we do it."
Dallas Fire-Rescue conducted a Last Alarm Bell ceremony signifying the loss of one of its firefighters.
Participants — though weary and exhausted — were upbeat, knowing their efforts have secured funds to assist the families of the fallen in the difficult days they may face ahead.