SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
The moon and stars seemed too tired to show their lights; only the light poles along the running track illuminated the ground. The breezy wind coming from all directions felt like summer had left Schriever Air Force Base weeks early, and autumn is beginning to take its place.
Master Sgt. Blair Burdick didn’t mind the weather at all. It was actually perfect for him. “Thankfully, it wasn’t raining. Just a little bit of a light wind,” he said.
He started at 4:15 a.m., about 15 minutes late. The sergeant had a valid excuse—he was at a party. Before you say anything, it was the 4th Space Operations Squadron’s dining in, celebrating the 100 years of total Milstar command and control. It was a big deal so he stayed up late for the celebration.
The squadron actually decided at the last minute to put a team together. However, they deemed Schriever Challenge was worth the steps.
At exactly 3 p.m. Aug. 18, runners began their quest to fulfill the 24-hour relay of running and/or walking on a quarter-mile loop, over and over again.
“The event is geared toward raising money for the Rocky Mountain Fisher House in Denver,” said 1st Lt. Lindsay Winningham, 50th Operations Support Squadron and one of the head organizers for the event.
The non-profit organization provides a “home away from home” whenever a military member is at a hospital. Rocky Mountain is just one of the locations around the country that provides this type of service to military families.
“They can essentially be taken care of; they don’t have to worry about anything but being there for their family member,” explained 1st Lt. Joshua Winningham, 3rd Operations Support Squadron.
This hits close to home for Team 4 SOPS. In April, one of their Airmen was injured in a motorcycle accident. Through Fisher House, the family members were able to be with the Airman.
“We have a member who is using the service, so why don’t we get out there?” Burdick said. “We put together a team and raised as much money as we can.”
Along with 4 SOPS, 10 other teams participated in the challenge; nine from the same unit, while one was a mish-mashed team. A maximum of 10 members may form a team, although some have less. Only one rule mattered: at least one person from each team has to keep it going.
And keep it going they did.
Teams set up tent cities in the fields for resting. One team opted for a recreational vehicle, while some individuals roughed it out, sleeping in hammocks tied on trees.
Volunteers served food, drinks and more to make sure participants had enough energy. Music reverberated throughout the field to encourage runners and walkers alike to keep moving.
“They have been extremely helpful. This would not have been successful without the volunteers. It takes a very special kind of person to come in at 2 a.m., stay until 6 a.m. and then go to a full duty day after that,” Lindsay said.
Even during a brief rain at approximately 2 a.m., teams were not deterred.
“We had an option to move the event inside the gym but they wanted to continue and do it outside,” Joshua said.
The steps continued.
Some were slow, others were fast. But in the end, each step had a purpose – to keep on going for a cause.
Burdick finished his 2-hour and 15-minute run with 52 laps, or 13 miles.
“It was a great event and it was for a good cause,” he said. “However, it’s painful. My calves are killing me.”
After 24 hours, Schriever Challenge completed more than 1,700 miles and raised $2,300 for the Fisher House.