HAYS — They caught the eye of many travelers as they ran alongside the road, proudly clinging to the American flag while making their way through northwest Kansas on Wednesday.
Team Red, White and Blue is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to enrich American veterans’ lives by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity, according to Patrick Griffith, southeast regional program manager.
The team is working toward completing the second annual Old Glory Relay, which is designed for running teams to strategically carry a single American flag across the country from San Francisco to Washington.
“It is to make Old Glory cross the U.S.,” said Christopher McAllister, Dallas, who ran from Oakley to WaKeeney. “There are people from all over the country that come and do this.”
Each chapter across the country has a team captain for the run. The captain has spent the last several months organizing and identifying routes while putting teams together so each individual knows where they’re supposed to meet and when.
The relay began Sept. 11 and ends Nov. 11 — Veterans Day.
According to Ray Weeks, veteran outreach director for Team RWB, the idea is to raise awareness in the communities of veterans, and help people understand there is a place for veterans as civic assets within those communities.
“Our group started in Colorado Springs and will end on Friday night in Kansas City, and then we will have another group of teams that will pick us up,” Weeks said.
Weeks ran alongside Anna Lozano, San Diego, while making their way through the area. Lozano carried the flag as the team passed through Hays.
“It feels really great to do this. I didn’t have a chance to last year,” Lozano said.
The two ended their run in Russell late Wednesday.
The relay isn’t just for Team RWB. Civilians are welcome to get involved as well, whether they run, walk or bike in support, according to Griffith.
This year, approximately 700 runners joined together to carry the flag, creating awareness, sparking conversation and honoring veterans along the way.
“(This team) is just like a community for you — a home away from your home,” Lozano said.
For more information, to donate toward the cause or to join Team RWB, visit www.teamrwb.org.