This Saturday, the Thorold Legion is hosting a BBQ fundraiser for a group of men who have been marching the Bruce Trail since July 5 in hopes of raising money and awareness for homeless veterans.
The march will be led by Hamilton’s Lino Di Julio and his organization Ruck 2 Remember.
“We’re doing an event called Road to Recovery: Ruck the Bruce,” Di Julio says in an interview with ThoroldToday. “It’s a 900-kilometer ruck march raising funds and awareness for the homeless and specifically for a program called ‘Operation: Leave the Streets Behind.'”
Operation: Leave the Streets Behind is a Royal Canadian Legion program aimed at getting homeless veterans off the streets.
“Anyone who has offered to serve their country and pledged to risk everything, including their life, should not have to suffer the indecency of homelessness,” says Di Julio. “Every tool should be given to them so that they have every opportunity to get out of this situation and enter society as a productive member.”
This is the ninth year that Ruck 2 Remember is organizing a march to raise awareness of the cause.
“In the first year we did Hamilton to Parry Sound and we carried a brick for every veteran who lost their life in Afghanistan,” says Di Julio. “In the years that followed, we walked two kilometers for every veteran and first responder who died the year before.”
This year, the team is attempting to raise $500,000 by trekking the 900-kilometer Bruce Trail from Tobermory to Queenston Heights, stopping at various legions along the way.
“We’ve encountered countless other veterans who served with guys from the team,” says Di Julio. “Just sitting down, sharing stories and reconnecting, that was probably the most enjoyable part.”
Di Julio says marching every day for over a month is taking its toll physically and mentally.
“The 34-day trek up the Bruce Trail isn’t necessarily the easiest thing I’ve ever done,” he says. “The terrain can be quite treacherous. There are parts of the Bruce Peninsula where you basically just climb. It can definitely be challenging, but mentally the hardest part is being away from my wife and daughter.”
Luckily, the team has had incredible support from local communities along the way.
“Seeing the community come out and support it means a lot to us,” says Di Julio. “The stuff was incredible. If it weren’t for all the people supporting us, we’d basically be hitting ourselves for no reason, so the community coming out is really what’s crucial about this whole thing.”
On Saturday 6th August the group will stop by the Thorold Legion in Ormond Street for a BBQ fundraiser at 6pm
After a restful night’s sleep in Thorold, the group concludes their 34-day trek at Niagara-on-the-Lake. According to Di Julio, the team has raised $170,000 so far and will keep donations open through November to hopefully reach the $500,000 goal.
If you would like to donate to Ruck 2 Remember, you can do so through the GoFundMe page or at Saturday’s BBQ fundraiser.
“It’s great that we can continue to help people,” says Di Julio. “We hope that one day there won’t be any homeless veterans on the streets, but we’re not there yet so we have to keep working.”