CORDOVA, Ill. (KWQC) – A Navy veteran is on a mission to honor fallen service members and their families. He’s doing that by taking on the mighty Mississippi and swimming the entire thing.
We caught up with Chris Ring when he swam into a dock area near Cordova on Wednesday. He says hi mission is about much more than an extreme challenge. “Ultimate goal is to meet as many gold star families as possible and to really spread that awareness so you can walk up to anybody on the street and they know what a Gold Star family is,” said Ring.
The ten-year Navy veteran is now a part of the organization Legacies Alive which supports families of fallen service members. Ring decided to “swim for their sacrifice” all 2,552 miles of the river to raise awareness celebrate the legacies of fallen heroes.
He’s been at it now for about 75 days. That’s also about how many gold star families they’ve met along the way.
“The biggest thing these families fear is the day people forget. Now that everything is kind of winding down we don’t want people to forget the sacrifice that was made,” added Ring.
Ray and Diane Maida were waiting to welcome Chris back on dry land. They lost their youngest son, Mark, in 2005. He was killed in Iraq during an IED explosion at 22 years old.
“The sacrifice of the families is being stressed by Chris. It’s not just the soldier, it’s the sacrifice of their loved ones, the community, the nation,” said Ray.
They traveled all the way from Madison, Wisconsin to meet Chris and thank him for what he’s doing. However, Chris feels they’re the ones that deserve gratitude. No matter if there’s rain or choppy water his journey will continue. A teammate stays right along with him in a kayak which also serves as inspiration to continue with with his mission. The team asks Gold Star families to sign it and leave a message in honor of their lost loved one.
Chris will swim from Cordova to Leclaire on Thursday and then he’ll make his way into Davenport Friday. If you’d like to check on his progress the team posts updates on the Legacies Alive Facebook page.