By Jeremy Henderson, Army Flier Staff WriterMay 18, 2017
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- During the early morning hours May 15, Capt. Matthew Rosebaugh strapped on a 50-pound ruck sack and stepped out the door to close the book on the goal of a 100-mile march.
Rosebaugh, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 223rd Aviation Regiment, used his mentor's struggle with cancer to fuel a more than 100-mile, 50-pound ruck sack march to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's cancer research efforts.
To protect the individual's privacy, the mentor's name is not used in this article.
"I met him in 2008, and he has been a part of every decision I have made throughout my career. He was an active-duty Aviation officer -- UH-1, UH-72 and UH-60 -- for more than 12 years and now an (Army Reservist)."
According to Rosebaugh, his mentor was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in February 2016 and underwent chemotherapy from February until July 2016. He has been in remission since August.
"If he stays in remission until August of this year, he has a 93 percent chance of being cured at the five-year mark," Rosebaugh said. "He is a phenomenal person, leader, husband, father and leader in the LLS community."
His mentor was approached soon after completing chemotherapy, according to Rosebaugh, to become part of the LLS community and contribute to cancer research funding efforts.
"He was nominated and accepted to help build a team who would try to fund 1,000 hours of research," Rosebaugh said. "While maybe not the most ever raised for the LLS, this goal is significantly higher than many we have seen. However, it was due, in part, to the research provided by the LLS that he was able to overcome the Hodgkin's lymphoma so quickly. This is something that has made a difference in his life, my life and the lives of countless others."
How did Rosebaugh decide a march would be his contribution to the Team 1,000's effort to fund 1,000 hours of research?
"The campaign actually runs from April 4 to June 8, but as I am leaving in a few weeks, I had limited time to support the team," he said. "I told (his mentor) that I had a solid month to support and wanted to do something that had a story, was a goal to reach and made me spend significant time supporting the team. By doing this, I could get people to support me for every mile or do a one-time donation throughout the event. The 100 miles coincides with the $100 an hour that the LLS funds to researchers to find new treatments and a possible cure for blood-borne cancers."
And so Rosebaugh began logging miles on post, setting a goal to reach 100 miles before transitioning to the Army Reserve.
"All of my rucking has been on Fort Rucker," he said. "I wanted my last leg to be from the main post gym to Ozark Gate to Enterprise Gate and then back to the main post gym. Starting at 5 a.m., I would be able to hopefully bring awareness and interest to everyone entering Fort Rucker from physical training hours until start of business for the day.
"I knew that I needed to do at least 25 miles per week and broke that into six day increments to have a rest day," he added. "I needed to average about 4 miles per day to do it. I would start at 5 a.m. to make sure it did not interfere with work or family, and made sure that I put in miles every day."
Rosebaugh knew the challenge would be difficult, but kept the reason for the effort in mind with every step.
"One of my driving motivations was that blood cancers do not stop every day," he said. "Therefore, I would not either. One of the most powerful moments came to me at the end of a 6-mile trek when I was looking forward to taking my ruck sack off. However, it hit me that people living with blood cancers have a weight much greater on their backs every day and could never take it off.
"As an Army officer, I saw this as my last mission in active-duty service. If I continued this journey, our team and everyone that supported it will be a part of allowing people living with leukemia or lymphoma to be able to take off their ruck sack," he said.
Rosebaugh reached his goal with the final ruck march on post May 15, marking more than 120 miles in support of cancer research.
"Time is what motivated me," he said. "While there are many ways to support a non-profit, time and a story that goes along with it is what has motivated me. (His mentor) has been an important mentor and friend in my life, and I would not be here without him. He has spent countless hours listening to me, counseling me, challenging me and motivating me. The best way I found to give back was to give him my time. Each day that he is still here is due, in part, to the research funded through the LLS, and I wanted to give back something that I could never get back to help support the goal to help others."
Rosebaugh will transition from active duty to the Army Reserve this month to serve as an adjunct professor of military science at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. He will be an MBA candidate at the Fisher College of Business at OSU starting in the fall and will be seeking a future career in running veteran service non-profits, as well as opportunities in marketing and consulting. He will be joined by his wife, Holley, and two daughters, Harper and Reese.
"One of the best lessons I have learned here is that Fort Rucker is a place where so many diverse organizations come together, talk out their differences, figure out solutions, make relationships and put 100 percent to getting the job done every day," he said. "The 'Fort Rucker Train' never stops and we never fail our mission because we have so many people around this post who make it happen.
"As a commander, I had to coordinate with a multitude of people around the post, and those relationships are literally what made the mission happen," he added. "No matter what our differences or backgrounds, this is one of the first places I have seen that believes in 'one team, one fight.' And that 'fight' is preparing Army Aviators to be prepared to support the ground command's mission."
For more information about LLS, visit https://www.lls.org
For more information about Team 1,000, visit http://www.mwoy.org/pages/wi/wi17/1000hours.
For more information about Ruck for the Cure, visit http://www.mwoy.org/pages/wi/wi17/mrosebaugh.