COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The national fitness fundraising challenge is in full swing, bringing the community together to participate in the 11th annual GallantFew’s Patriot Challenge. 

It all started right here in Columbus more than 10 years ago when US Army Ranger Cory Smith ran 565 miles from Fort Benning to Indianapolis, Indiana in search of his family.

The Patriot Challenge serves as a nationwide military transition advocacy and community fitness event. 

For the entire month of February, participants are encouraged to log 565 miles of any time of physical activity – like running, walking, or even weightlifting. 

In Columbus, the local YMCA is helping teams and individuals meet their fitness goals by allowing participants to use the facility free of charge for the entire month.

St. Luke Military Ministry Director, Tony Mayne, is also at the forefront of helping active and veteran service members in the community through a military outreach center. 

Mayne, a veteran himself, was able to serve over 740 service members and their families in 2022 and hopes to increase that number this year. He says the fundraising fitness challenge is all about finding local solutions for veterans.  

“Luckily some people have taken note,” said Mayne. “We have a $50,000 matching grant now, so everything we raise in February is going to stay here local in Columbus to continue in and expand that number of 740 veterans and their families. We’re so excited and that’s why we really want people to be involved in the Patriot Challenge.”

Although February already started, you can still sign up for the challenge here.