GallantFew’s Run Ranger Run Rebrands as Patriot Challenge — and It’s Not Just for Runners Anymore

February 12, 2021Joshua Skovlund
GallantFew Patriot Challenge

A Patriot Challenge participant works his way through a group workout at Uncommon Athlete in Columbus, Georgia. Photo by Joshua Skovlund/Coffee or Die Magazine.

The inaugural year for GallantFew’s Patriot Challenge, an evolution of the Run Ranger Run fundraiser, is in full swing with teams participating across the country and taking advantage of more opportunities to gain miles toward their objective. Whether it’s running, walking your dogs or crushing a CrossFit workout, teams are getting after their goal of 565 combined miles. The Patriot Challenge has already raised over $250,000 so far. 

A relaunch of the 8-year-old Run Ranger Run event, the Patriot Challenge fundraiser happens every February. Teams work toward a combined goal of 565 miles in 28 days, with a mission to bridge the civilian and military gap while assisting active-duty soldiers in their transition back to civilian life. With the new name also comes more ways to count your miles. Now, for every 15 minutes of activity, including but not limited to powerlifting, dancing, and even Pilates, you gain a mile toward your final goal. If you lift for one hour, that will be 4 miles, and if you run a marathon, that’s 26.2 miles. 

The original Run Ranger Run fundraiser started when Cory Smith teamed up with GallantFew. Smith was ending his enlistment with the US Army after serving with the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, for four years. He was separated from his wife, who moved home to Indianapolis with their 18-month-old daughter while he was deployed. Going from the completely structured day-in-and-day-out lifestyle that the military provides to the sometimes structureless period of time that follows separating from the military can leave a veteran feeling lost and even self-destructive.

Smith decided to run 565 miles from Fort Benning, Georgia, to his hometown in 28 days after his last day at a job he loved. While facing problems of his own, Smith and the GallantFew agreed on a mutual mission to raise funds for the GallantFew and raise awareness of the problems men and women face when transitioning back to civilian life after serving their country. 

Smith’s run home gave birth to a movement that has grown every year since its inception. And now, the evolution into the Patriot Challenge fundraiser has expanded the ranks. 

As the name suggested, Run Ranger Run had a Ranger-centric theme with large numbers of participants coming from the Ranger community. Teams formed all over the US, and even overseas, but GallantFew felt there was a way to make things more inclusive and so set a goal to rebrand without changing the mission. 

The Patriot Challenge swapped out the original Ranger colors of black and gold for red, white, and blue to pay homage to the American flag. Also, once a team raises $1,000, 50% of anything exceeding $1,000 can be dedicated to an approved military nonprofit of the team’s choosing, while the remaining 50% goes to GallantFew.

Michael Schlitz, a 14-year US Army Ranger veteran who has served on the board of directors and in various leadership positions with the Gary Sinise Foundation and GallantFew, is the Patriot Challenge’s inaugural chairman. Schlitz has dedicated his life to veterans advocacy following an IED explosion that left him without both hands, loss of vision, and his body 85% burned.

“With this new evolving way to include everybody, from civilian to veterans, the different branches [of the military], I thought it was a big deal to come in and help lend some support,” Schlitz said. “If I can be a small voice, if I can spread the message that we can reach a broader group of veterans, then I’m all for it.”

Schlitz explained how the new Patriot Challenge is more inclusive than the old Run Ranger Run model. 

“I think moving forward under the Patriot Challenge, the biggest change is going to be the involvement of more people. There’s only a certain number of people that can actually serve our nation, and for those that choose to go a different path, there’s nothing against that,” Schlitz said. “We can’t all be in the military, we all can’t be lawyers, we all can’t be doctors, we all need different professions. But that doesn’t mean we can’t support those people who chose to do those things. I think this is going to allow everyone to become more involved, to reach out to their communities.”

The first year of the Patriot Challenge has seen challenges brought on by the novel coronavirus, but despite the pandemic, teams are finding ways to maintain a feeling of belonging and purpose. For instance, members of an RBC Wealth Management team based in Minnesota are walking through parks, cross-country skiing, and even logging miles by lifting weights, while also keeping up their daily routines and adhering to local pandemic restrictions. Seven teams representing RBC nationwide have already raised more than $15,000 for the GallantFew. 

Read Next: What Does It Mean To Be a Patriot? A Brief History of the Word and How It Could Unite Us

Joshua Skovlund
Joshua Skovlund

Joshua Skovlund is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die. He covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. After five years as in paramedicine, he transitioned to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
Coffee Or Die Photo
From the Team Room to Team Room Design: An Operator’s Creative Journey

BRCC partners with Team Room Design for an exclusive T-shirt release!

Coffee Or Die Photo
Get Your Viking On: The Exclusive 30 Sec Out BRCC Shirt Club Design

Thirty Seconds Out has partnered with BRCC for an exclusive shirt design invoking the God of Winter.

Grizzly Forge BRCC shirt
Limited Edition: Grizzly Forge Blades on an Awesome BRCC Shirt

Lucas O'Hara of Grizzly Forge has teamed up with BRCC for a badass, exclusive Shirt Club T-shirt design featuring his most popular knife and tiomahawk.

BRCC Limited Edition Josh Raulerson Blackbeard Skull Shirt
From Naval Service to Creative Canvas: BRCC Veteran Artist Josh Raulerson

Coffee or Die sits down with one of the graphic designers behind Black Rifle Coffee's signature look and vibe.

Medal of Honor is held up.
Biden Will Award Medal of Honor to Army Helicopter Pilot Who Rescued Soldiers in Vietnam Firefight

Biden will award the Medal of Honor to a Vietnam War Army helicopter pilot who risked his life to save a reconnaissance team from almost certain death.

dear jack mandaville
Dear Jack: Which Historic Battle Would You Want To Witness?

Ever wonder how much Jack Mandaville would f*ck sh*t up if he went back in time? The American Revolution didn't even see him coming.

west point time capsule
West Point Time Capsule Yields Centuries-Old Coins

A nearly 200-year-old West Point time capsule that at first appeared to yield little more than dust contains hidden treasure, the US Military Academy said.

  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
Contact Us
© 2024 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved