About the time most of us will be waking up on Saturday, June 9, a group of five men will be purposefully marching along the orchard-lined roads of southern Michigan. Wearing combat boots instead of the expected addidas, carrying CamelBak packs, MREs and American flags, the men are on a mission: to raise money and awareness for wounded veterans through the Wounded Warrior Project.
“Our theme for the walk is, ‘Irish Lead the Way,” said Brian Lohr, the director of University of Notre Dame MBA Admissions who organized the walk. “This is really just about honoring the sacrifice of those who serve in the military, which is true to the Notre Dame mission. We’re a small group with a modest goal, but if we can raise enough to move one soldier to his or her next phase of life, we’ll call it a success.”
The plan is to set off from the Notre Dame campus at about 3 a.m. on June 9 and hike about 30 miles to Weko Beach in Bridgman, Mich., by 1:30 p.m.
The group is a mix of Notre Dame MBA military students and staff: Lohr, who grew up as a military brat with a father Richard who served in the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division for 20 years before retiring with the rank of colonel; Andrew Sama, senior associate director of ND MBA Admissions and prior Air Force enlisted; Sean McCaffery, U.S. Army major and one-year MBA student (’13); and Kurt Wilson, U.S. Army staff sergeant and second-year student (’13). Tim Shea, managing partner of Architectural Products Magazine based in Chicago and a friend of Lohr’s, volunteered to go along as well.
Part mini-walkathon, part Notre Dame service project, part fitness plan, the planned march has the modest goal of raising $1,000 for Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising public awareness of the wounds – sometimes visible, sometimes not – that soldiers suffer as a result of military conflict. The project seeks to rehabilitate wounded service members, assisting them with physical, emotional and financial recovery and with the transition back to civilian life. It provides a long list of support services, including family retreats, employment assistance and peer mentoring.
Wounded Warrior also sponsors the Soldier Ride, a four-day cycling opportunity held at 13 communities across the nation. The 30-mile rides are intended to encourage “rehab through cycling.” Participants are provided with state-of-the-art adaptive hand cycles, trikes and bicycles to accommodate their various injuries and disabilities, as well as unmodified road bikes for riders not requiring adaptive equipment. (Watch video)
Lohr was familiar with the group from past Notre Dame MBA military students and alums who had participated in various support activities. Recent graduate Dan Marques – who served in Iraq and Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne Division as an intelligence officer, platoon leader and executive officer – rode his bike with two Army buddies more than 3,800 miles across the country in the summer of 2010. Their effort, dubbed PedalinWithAPurpose, raised $25,000 for Wounded Warrior.
The Notre Dame MBA program also has a long tradition of supporting military veterans and their families. The program is a full participant in the GI Bill and Yellow Ribbon programs. It has been named as a Military Friendly School by G.I. Jobs Magazine for three years running.
For more information or to donate to the Notre Dame MBA Wounded Warrior Walk, contact Brian Lohr at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit https://support.woundedwarriorproject.org/group-fundraising/ILTW/