Sam Leonard - Operation Samalama
In the Fall of 2014, TMF supporter Sam Leonard (age 73) set out to walk across the country to help raise funds for the Travis Manion Foundation, which supports Veterans and Families of the Fallen. He began from his Florida home with the goal of walking all the way to California. In April of 2015, Sam was forced to halt his efforts in Houston, TX after being diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer. He had completed 1000 miles of his journey and hoped to return to finish the effort he had started. Sadly, Sam passed away just 4 months later, but not before he and his family reached out to the Travis Manion Foundation about the possibility of completing their hero’s goal.
Fortunately, the Travis Manion Foundation has a “guy” for this sort of challenge. In 2012 TMF West Coast Veteran Services Manager, Albie Masland, ran 3,025 miles from Dana Point, CA to Broadkill Beach, DE to honor the fallen, challenge the living, and raise money for the Travis Manion Foundation.
Albie contacted his good friends and TMF Ambassadors, Nick Biase (USMC) and Matt Peace (USN) to see if they wanted to help honor Sam by running from Houston to California. Both Nick and Matt are Veterans that went through one of our Veteran Services transition programs, and are currently involved in our Veteran-Youth mentorship program. Nick and Matt were up to the “If Not Me, Then Who…” challenge and they joined Albie in completing the last 1,500 miles of Sam’s journey. Beginning March 31st, 2016 the trio, along with their support crew of Joe Wooten (USMC), Eric Biase, Gray Bashew and Howard Bashew, covered 20 miles each per day over the course of 30 days. They ran through Austin, TX, El Paso, TX, Tucson, AZ, and Yuma, AZ before they finished Sam’s journey on the deck of the USS Midway in San Diego, CA Harbor on April 29th at around 10am. Together they helped raise over $25,000 for the Travis Manion Foundation on Sam’s behalf.
You can still donate in support of Albie, Nick, and Matt’s amazing initiative to honor Sam.
To view photos of this journey, please visit our Flickr Album.