Donnie Starling, Team RWB Old Glory Relay Event Coordinator
What do you see in this picture? Can you see the secret ingredient? Let me help you out.
I am the Team Red, White and Blue Events Coordinator for the Old Glory Relay. This year’s Relay is moving a single American flag from San Francisco to Washington D.C. in an effort to capture the Faces of Old Glory across our great nation. Together with our presenting sponsor Microsoft we are hosting 59 different teams to complete this epic experience 50 miles a day from September 11th to November 8th.
Let me provide the background on the picture. It was taken at the entrance to Elk Creek National Recreation Area along the Blue Mesa Reservoir in Colorado. This day we were covering 54 miles, through the picturesque Colorado vistas, complete with a wonderful sunrise, a double rainbow, a bit of wind, pesky rain and many patriotic motorists. Do you see our secret yet?
Now about the runners. On the left, Brandon has been running with Old Glory for about four miles. To avoid his body's complaints about the rain, elevation and hills he has been thinking about the six hour drive home when he completes this segment. He really didn't have time in his schedule for this adventure, but he is happy he did. This run is allowing him to triage what can be done and what can wait in his life. Every so often a passing motorist offers a Freedom Honk or a wave and, Brandon without thinking, raises Old Glory as high as he can in response. This has not been an easy run.
The other runner is Ned, he has arrived at this exchange early and is standing in a light rain waiting for Brandon to appear. He too is an extremely busy man and has many things on his mind, as he tries not to hear his body's complaints from the previous three times with Old Glory today. Top of his thoughts, pride in his daughter who just completed her third segment of the day in record speed and how he can workout a few more times a week despite a busy work schedule. His life triage will begin shortly.
Both our runners are totally immersed in their own thoughts until the top of Old Glory starts to emerge from the crest in the road. Instantly, both Brandon's and Ned's focus snaps to a single event, the impending hand-off. Ned encourages Brandon up the hill and Brandon responds with a burst of speed to the exchange location. The two meet briefly for the hand-off and Ned is off with shouts of encouragement from Brandon as he heads down the rainy highway and starts to sort out life.
Have you seen our secret in the picture yet? Over the Old Glory Relay course of 3,539.6 miles, over 1,000 of these hand-offs will occur with this single Flag in locations across the country between veterans, friends, families, strangers and supporters. Our secret is in the hand-offs. That momentary pause from the ups and downs of life to meet with another person and share a special personal connection. The hand-off is the only reason the Old Glory Relay can complete this crazy journey. On a bigger scale, hand-offs are the secret ingredient that is allows Team RWB to enrich the lives of Veterans and supporters through social and physical activities in their local communities.
It’s your turn where will your hand-off be today?
For more information about the Old Glory Relay, visit OldGloryRelay.org. For more information about Team RWB, visit TeamRWB.org. Brandon Young is the Team RWB Director of Development. Ned Breslin is the Wounded Warrior Project Executive Vice President of Partnerships and Programmatic Investments and was the Team Captain for Day 25 of the 2015 Old Glory Relay.