Close to 200 people in San Antonio came out to walk in this third year of the West Coast Relay that just keeps growing. "In just one year it's jumped a decent amount, and I have high expectations for year four of the West Coast," West Coast Relay Manager Travis Swaim said. He said the stories people have told them along the way have been humbling.
Swaim told us, "Whether it's been Gold Star families with the Gary Sinise foundation, whether they lost their husbands and family members, and they come out and walk with us and share their story. It's a really heavy event for us."
"We are free because of all the military and first responders," said Gerardo Elias, who shared one of those stories, which is the reason he's walking today for the first time. "My brother two years ago passed away in a tragic accident," Elias said. "He had just retired from the military. He did 15 years in the Marines."
He was hit by a drunk driver while helping someone else along the highway. "Everything I do, I do for him. Every time I get up in the morning, he's the one that makes me go," Elias said.
"We are here to honor those that gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country and for the community," said Drew DeLeon. DeLeon is on the West Coast Carry The Load team as one of the main cyclists riding at night, and the only veteran on the team. He hopes he's making a difference.
"Seeing another veteran do good things for other vets is inspiring. I know it would be to me and I hope I am that to other vets I've met along the way," he said.
But a big difference that he and all of these people who gathered at La Villita for San Antonio's Carry The Load rally want to make is to remind us all what Memorial Day is really about.
"Take a moment at the beginning of that day and remember why you have the day off. Remember why there are people that are no longer here, because they went above and beyond and paid the ultimate price with their life," DeLeon said.
From here, the Carry The Load West Coast Relay Team heads to Houston Sunday night, and Tuesday they go tubing in New Braunfels. Next Sunday into Memorial Day, they'll join the East Coast Relay at Reverchon Park in Dallas for the annual Memorial Day March.