The second annual “Ruck for the Cure," an event to aid children with cancer, is planned for this month and it’s open to those who want to join the soldier and cancer survivor who created it.

The fundraiser was founded by Spc. Shayn Lindquist, the Army Times Soldier of the Year, who has won his own fight with cancer.

After being diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2017, Lindquist founded the charitable nonprofit during his treatment. His goal was to bring soldiers together to raise money for children battling cancer, and to see if he could do it.

"I just wanted to prove to myself that after I went through treatment, and my body felt like a mess, that I could rebound and reach my peak again,” said Lindquist.

Lindquist, 22, is busy organizing the fundraiser, scheduled to take place on Aug. 24. He’s looking for both donations and people to join the Ruck. So far, he has 18 volunteers hiking with him this year.

He has two goals for the charity, the first to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Special Days Camps for children with cancer. The second reason was to prove to himself that cancer couldn’t keep him down.

Lindquist dedicated his recovery time to raising money and awareness for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and Special Days Camp, where he is also a summer counselor for children with cancer.

If it all seems like a lot for a 22-year-old to take on, it is.

"I couldn't put this on without the support of my friends and family who help me every day sharing the story, and asking for sponsors and donations," said Lindquist.

Lindquist got the idea for a rucking event from Nick Bare, a former infantry officer who now runs a nutrition supplements company and regularly posts about fitness events on his Instagram.

Spc. Shayn Lindquist volunteers with children fighting cancer and their siblings during a summer camp. (Courtesy photo)
Spc. Shayn Lindquist volunteers with children fighting cancer and their siblings during a summer camp. (Courtesy photo)

“We are at 18 participants currently,” said Lindquist. “Last year, we went 150 miles over five days and didn’t have as many participants rucking as we do this year. I’m very excited about that.”

Lindquist will lead this year’s hike, which begins at Saint Ignace, Michigan on the Mackinac Bridge. The ruck will be 25 miles in one day, starting in Charlevoix, Michigan and ending at the Mackinac Bridge.

The goal now is to double the amount raised last year. He says the three donation points are a gofundme.com account, a Facebook fundraiser and T-shirt sales.

“I’m excited for how well Ruck for a Cure 2019 has come along,” said Lindquist. “It started slowly, but it’s started picking up in the last couple of months. Donations are up to $2600, and we have about 10 sponsors getting on board to help put on the event.”

The first “Ruck for a Cure” event raised $3,000 for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Special Days Camps.

When the going gets tough

When he was surprised with his initial cancer diagnosis, Lindquist had just won the battalion level of the Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command Soldier of the Year Award competition. He had been playing hockey regularly and was attending classes at Central Michigan University on top of his Reserve duties.

For some, balancing the demanding rigors and challenges of college and the Army Reserve would have been challenge enough. Instead, during chemo and recovery, Lindquist created a fourth challenge, starting a non-profit and organizing a charity fundraiser.

Now that he is cancer free, his goals and calendar continue to expand. In addition to his charity work, Lindquist says he just finished his Basic Leadership Course for the Army. He is also currently on his way back to Michigan to volunteer for a week at the Special Days Camp.

After that, he starts his last semester at Central Michigan University, with plans to graduate in December and hopes to head to Officer Candidate School.

“I believe that hiking 25 miles this year is a small price to pay compared to the everyday challenges pediatric cancer patients face,” said Lindquist. “I hope to continue this event in the future.”