The 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division Raiders officially kicked off their Walk to Afghanistan project at Pierce County Fantasy Lights Walk sneak preview Nov. 18, at Spanaway Park in Spanaway.
The Walk to Afghanistan program is a common tradition among Army units and is designed for family members near and far, said Jana Johns, a brigade family readiness support assistant.
The intent of the program is to build camaraderie among the families and friends who support the unit, Johns said.
The great thing is, anybody can do it, she added, whether youre a little kid on a bicycle or a grandmother who walks at the mall.
Walking, running, biking, swimming and other organized sporting events may be counted as literal miles or can earn participants one mile for every 10 minutes of sustained physical activity. During the deployment, Raider Run members will engage in a friendly competition to see who can log the most miles for the brigades Soldiers.
We currently have 701 participants registered on 54 different teams from all over the country, said Leslie Sorensen, who has volunteered to organize, track and facilitate the project.
According to Sorensen, spouse of a Soldier deployed with the 38th Engineer Company, the plan is for everyone to work together toward a common goal of walking 6,981 miles from Joint Base Lewis-McChord to Kandahar, Afghanistan, and back a total of 13,962 miles.
One month into the program, the tally stands at 14,530 miles one round trip already complete. I am honored and excited to be a part of it, Sorensen said.
More than 200 Soldiers, Family members, and friends attended the official Raider Run kick-off at Spanaway Park. Normally a driving tour, the Fantasy Lights Walk was a one-night-only event, taking participants on foot through 2.5 miles of animated light displays.
Through a lot of great teamwork from our spouses, the brigade FRSAs and agencies in Pierce County government, we were able to attend the Fantasy Lights Walk for free to encourage Walk to Afghanistan participation and provide holiday spirit for the Raider community, said Lt. Col. Jody Miller, 4th Bde., 2nd Inf. Div. Raider Ready Reserve commander.
For Starlotte Hernandez, whose husband is currently deployed to Afghanistan with 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, the event was a great opportunity to meet with other Soldiers wives.
It brings comfort and peace of mind knowing that youre not going through this alone, Hernandez said. Her 2-year-old daughter pointed to one of the displays, exclaiming, Wow, Mommy, Daddy would like! We miss you and were counting down the days till you return, said Hernandez in a message to her husband downrange.
The 4th Bde., 2nd Inf. Div. is currently deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The Raider Ready Reserve is organized, equipped and trained to execute rear detachment operations focused on maintaining Soldier, Family, training and equipment readiness that instill confidence in forward deployed commanders.
For information about the 4th Bde. Raider Run, visit https://www.facebook.com/RaiderRunJblmToAfghanistan.