68-year-old Texan Mike Rouse has completed a month-long running challenge of 31 miles for 31 consecutive days in May to honor the lives and legacies of 31 fallen American military heroes. With May as Military Appreciation Month, he challenged others across the country to run, walk, bike or swim any combination of 31 miles to honor past and present military members and their families. The challenge benefited Boot Campaign, a Texas-based non-profit that honors and restores the lives of veterans and military families through individualized, life-improving programs.
One of Mike’s closest friends, Navy SEAL Petty Officer Jon T. Tumilson, was one of 31 servicemembers aboard a military helicopter that was shot down in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011. During each run, Mike wore a shirt bearing the name and photo of one of the 31 men who lost their lives in the tragic event – most of whom he had never met.
Mike’s initial 31-mile run on May 1 took place in Frisco, TX followed by runs in his hometown of Abilene, Houston, Austin, Boston, MA and San Diego, CA. His goal was to raise funds for Boot Campaign through mile pledges, donations and merchandise sales during the month of May. After the 31 days, donations made by participants and individuals amounted to $23,551 and a corporate partner contributed $25,000 – totaling $48,551. The donation will support veterans and their families involved in Boot Campaign’s comprehensive health and wellness program designed to target invisible wounds of war including post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, chronic pain, self-medication and insomnia.
“Memorial Day is not a happy day. I want people to understand what this day represents. For the families of our fallen servicemen and women, every day is Memorial Day,” said Mike Rouse. “I spent the first 33 years of my life focused on Mike Rouse and I learned that wouldn’t get me anywhere. That’s why I challenge myself and have devoted my life to helping others through my running.”
“The #31for31for31 challenge began initially with one man running to commemorate the lives and legacies of 30 American men and one service dog who sacrificed it all in the name of freedom,” said Boot Campaign CEO Shelly Kirkland. “This year, the May movement grew as part of Military Appreciation Month and culminated on Memorial Day with the remembrance of so many, killed in action around the world. But our work at Boot Campaign continues because though so many service members return home, without visible wounds, many still suffer from injuries that occurred on the battlefield. Just as we remember the warriors killed in action, we remember those who lost their war within.”
About Boot Campaign
Established in 2009, Boot Campaign’s mission is to unite Americans to honor and restore the lives of veterans and military families through individualized programs. Accredited by the Better Business Bureau and with a Platinum rating from GuideStar, on average 87% of funds raised by Boot Campaign go directly to its mission-minded programs. To learn more, visit www.bootcampaign.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the handle @bootcampaign.
About Mike Rouse
Mike Rouse is a 68-year-old Texas endurance athlete who trains for long-distance races around the world. Rouse lost a special friend in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson. To honor his friend and the 31 military service personnel who died, Rouse has run 31 miles for 31 straight days in May. Each day he wore a shirt that bears the name of one of those 31 U.S. heroes.