SHARON, Vt. – Dozens of Norwich University cadets marked Veterans Day by completing the first section of a 50-mile journey from the school’s original home in Norwich to the current campus in Northfield.
‘The Legacy March’ has become an annual tradition for students, and one step at a time, the event has helped raise money for homeless veterans.
“We’ve raised about $5,000 so far, and we’re hoping to raise $8,000,” said Ethan Owens, a cadet and co-president of the march.
That money will go directly to The Veterans’ Place, a Northfield transition home and support center where those who served our country can get the help they need in a time of crisis.
“Seeing how that money directly influences the lives of these veterans and actually helps them get back on their feet, get a resume and turn their life around is really spectacular,” Owens said.
Students spent the night at Sharon Academy on Thursday after logging 16 miles on the road.
Lindsey Gordon, another co-president of the march, said cadets will march 17 miles of mostly uphill terrain. They will then have dinner with a group of veterans. Gordon said their stories put the march into perspective.
“It’s kind of an eye-opener,” Gordon said. “You just finished your second day, your body is exhausted, but then you realize I’ve got nothing on the table compared to these guys.”
Norwich University wanted to get more civilian students involved in the march this year. Timothy Hodges, a junior at Norwich, was the first civilian student on the Legacy March committee.
“Anything we can do to try and help them, make them feel validated and make them feel like ‘Hey, we appreciate what you’ve done for us,’ it’s worth it,” Hodges said.
Karen Boyce, managing director of The Veterans’ Place, said students’ commitment and compassion for residents doesn’t go unnoticed.
“The kids come, they play poker with the guys after dinner,” Boyce said. “I’ve had lacrosse teams there helping do yardwork, I’ve had entire wrestling teams show up. The residents love having the students there and having them to spend time with.”
Since the first Legacy March, students have raised over $30,000.
“It makes them feel good to know that somebody is thinking of them,” Boyce said.
The group will spend Friday night at Vermont Technical College, with hopes to have their trip completed by noon on Saturday.