From left, Staff Sgt. Evan Romine, Staff Sgt. Wayne Whitbeck and Sgt. 1st Class James Allred prepare for a rucksack hike in Columbia.

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- A pair of Fort Jackson drill sergeants hope to put 100 hikers on a 10K trail this weekend.

Sgt. 1st Class James Allred and Staff Sgt. Wayne Whitbeck, drill sergeants with the 3rd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, are staging an event Saturday morning to raise awareness for Ruck for a Cure, a non-profit organization they founded earlier in the year. Ruck for a Cure is designed to raise money and awareness for cancer and related research.

The concept emerged late last year, following Whitbeck's father's bout with brain cancer.

"My father was suffering from glioblastoma," Whitbeck said. "Around December, Allred and I got together and mulled some ideas. This became official in January."

Allred said his mother and two aunts are currently dealing with cancer.

The two Soldiers have spent much of their free time in recent months competing in rucksack marches to promote the non-profit organization. Beginning at 7 a.m., Saturday morning at Hilton Field, they will bring the sport to Fort Jackson. They hope to attract 100 hikers to compete in a rucksack march, which will have them walking 10 kilometers of rolling trails while carrying 40-pound rucksacks.

"We've done a lot of 20-mile ruck marches, and we just got back from a 100-mile ruck march at Myrtle Beach last week. We did 100 miles in five days," Whitbeck said. "It's an awareness activity for us."

"We also want to get our name out there to get out the Ruck for a Cure name as best we can and get as many people on board as possible," Allred said.

Registration for the Saturday event is $25 per person and includes a Ruck for a Cure T-shirt. Team registration is $50 and includes four shirts.

"Ruck marching in the Army is an ongoing competition," Allred said. "It's a test of endurance, bragging rights, fitness, what we're doing is implementing that into what we're doing for a good cause. I know a lot of Soldiers will relate to that."

This weekend's event is just a minor prelude for a hike planned for 2013. Both men will be leaving the Army in February and plan to take a 3,000-mile walk across America. They'll begin Feb. 4 in Ocean City, Md., and wrap up seven months later in San Francisco.

"Since we're both getting out at the same time, we decided it would be neat to do something military related for a non-military cause," Allred said. "We thought it would be uniquely inspiring to do a ruck march across America. It's snowballed from there."

The entire trek will not only be on foot, they will also be carrying weighted rucksacks. The plan is to chart their journey through updates to their website, adding photos and stories from the route.

"We've got an online GPS tracker so people can track where we're at on the march," Allred said. "We're working on sponsorships right now. We're a formal non-profit organization in South Carolina, and we're currently working on becoming a federal non-profit organization, as well."

"The intent is for Ruck for a Cure to get big enough to continue once we're through with the march," Allred said.

Page last updated Thu May 17th, 2012 at 14:07