In 2012, shortly after returning from his second deployment, U.S. Army Ranger Cory Smith took off on a 565-mile run from Fort Benning, Ga., to his hometown of Indianapolis. The goal of his 28-day journey was to bring awareness to the challenges many soldiers face when they return from service.

Inspired by Smith's determination to raise awareness, veteran-focused nonprofit GallantFew established Run Ranger Run, an annual fitness fundraiser that supports veteran organizations across the country. In 2021, the event became known as the Patriot Challenge.

Patriot Challenge participants

More than 580 RBC Wealth Management-U.S. employees across the country participated in the 2022 Patriot Challenge.

Individuals and teams raise money by logging at least 565 total miles during the 28 days of February. How participants complete their miles widely varies. Athletes can run, bike, swim or skate, and they also earn a mile for every 15 minutes of non-distance-related activity, such as weight lifting, yoga or CrossFit.

“The Patriot Challenge was designed to be a purpose-built fundraiser and fitness challenge that allows anyone, military or civilian, to show their support to American patriots,” says Tony Mayne, director of the Patriot Challenge.

RBC Wealth Management – U.S. is a title sponsor of the fundraiser, and in 2022 580 employees across four teams nationwide participated in the challenge, raising over $78,000 and logging more than 20,000 miles.

“The Patriot Challenge was a great opportunity to use something that I already do in a really positive way,” says Richard Ingalls, an operations director at RBC Wealth Management. “I've never served in the military, but participating in this challenge helped me understand some of the causes that impact veterans and some of the challenges they experience.”

Patriot Challenge participants

RBC Wealth Management employees logged their Patriot Challenge miles in a variety of different ways.

Working together to make a difference

A majority of the funds raised by Patriot Challenge teams support GallantFew's veteran transition support programs, with a portion of any funds beyond $1,000 donated to a veteran-focused charity of the team's choice. The RBC Wealth Management participants selected four nonprofits to support with their additional funds: Fisher House, Paws for People, Soldiers6, and the Three Rangers Foundation.

Overall, the 2022 Patriot Challenge raised more than $375,000, with participants logging their miles by running, walking, biking, skiing, weightlifting, and more.

“I tracked a lot of my miles on my basement elliptical machine, but on the weekends I tried to get outdoors,” says Mark Gorius, an operations director for RBC Wealth Management. Gorius, an Army veteran, is chair of the firm's veterans-focused employee resource group.

The “Beasts of the East,” a team based in the Baltimore area, tracked more than 3,600 miles and raised nearly $40,000. Of the 129 teams nationwide that participated in the challenge in 2022, the “Beasts of the East” raised the most money.

“I am so proud of RBC Wealth Management employees' efforts in raising money and logging miles for the Patriot Challenge,” says Pat Vaughan, East Division director at RBC Wealth Management and executive sponsor of the veterans-focused employee resource group. “When you work together, you can make a difference.”

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