Ruck Across America Comes to Palm Beach Gardens

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A South Florida man will hike down U.S. Highway 1 and A1A, passing Waterfront Properties and Club Communities in Jupiter, during his 40-mile route between Hobe Sound and Lake Worth.

Downtown at the Gardens' will be the rallying point for Ruck Across America.

In all, Ruck Across America participants will cover close to 10,000 miles on a route that began northward along the West Coast, headed eastward across the country, turned southward along with East Coast and will finish westward across the heartland.

Michael Shelly, an in-shape Port St. Lucie resident, will take part in a national phenomenon known as Ruck Across America this month when he travels from Hobe Sound to Lake Worth on foot with a backpack filled with bricks.

Actually, Shelly’s backpack – called a ruck in military parlance – will be filled with items donated for a charity raffle. But earlier this year, it was stuffed with six of the rectangular blocks as he competed in the GORUCK Challenge, an extreme endurance event modeled after military training exercises.

Ruck Across America was formed by GORUCK Challenge alumni as a fundraiser for the Green Beret Foundation, which supports wounded warriors who have served their country in the U.S. Special Forces. Funds raised go toward financial assistance, household items, educational scholarships and other aid for Army families. Four programs make up the foundation’s mission: Casualty Care, Ruck Program, Steel Magnolias and Scholarship.

Casualty Care pays for bringing spouses to their wounded loved ones. Ruck Program offers care packages for injured soldiers. Steel Magnolias is a group of Army wives who serve as a support group for caregivers. Scholarship targets the children of noncommissioned officers, as well as children of wounded Special Forces members.

Ruck Across America’s fundraising goal is $100,000. So far, more than $12,000 has been brought in. Ruck Across America began June 22 in Coronado, Calif., and is scheduled to conclude in February 2013, in Fort Carson, Colo. Between 400 and 500 GORUCK Challenge volunteers are participating in various legs of the hike, including the one that will take Shelly through neighborhoods of homes in Jupiter.

Shelley, a plumber who works for a Riviera Beach company, will depart Hobe Sound just prior to midnight Nov. 28 and arrive in Lake Worth about noontime Nov. 29. At 8 a.m., he is expected to run through Downtown at the Gardens, one of the businesses his company services. Downtown at the Gardens is a mixed-use, open-air, retail and restaurant complex near The Landmark in Palm Beach Gardens. The family-friendly development houses a movie theater, a grocery store, a children’s carousel and a park.

Palm Beach Gardens’ Veterans of Foreign Wars post will organize a start-to-finish motorcycle escort to thank Shelly for his ambitious volunteerism and show of support.

Patrons of Downtown at the Gardens, many of whom are real-estate clients of Waterfront Properties and Club Communities, will gather that morning to cheer on the husband, father and ex-football player from Greenacres. Shelly’s 12-hour leg will cover 40 miles of Southeast Florida real estate.

In all, Ruck Across America participants will cover close to 10,000 miles on a route that began northward along the West Coast, headed eastward across the country, turned southward along with East Coast and will finish westward across the heartland. The ruck will have passed hands the entire journey.

Kendall Rumsey, director of marketing at Downtown at the Gardens, said business owners at the development are planning a ruck-worthy welcome for Shelly.

“Everyone at Downtown is inspired by Mr. Shelly’s commitment to run 40 miles in one day,” Rumsey said. “His dedication to this endeavor and the Green Beret Foundation are remarkable, and we are happy to play a small part in this worthwhile fundraising event.”

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Rob Thomson
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