NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Thousands of people are taking part in a massive effort to shift the focus of Memorial Day.

A group of people taking part in the Carry the Load Relay stopped in North Kansas City Wednesday.

The event is a 20,000-mile national relay to honor and remember fallen military members and first responders.

The relay began in 2011, and organizers said the 32-day event is working to restore the original meaning to Memorial Day. It’s grown almost every year.

Organizers said there are now five routes covering 48 states along with 100 rallies along the way. Everyone involved in the relay will meet at the Dallas Memorial March on Memorial Day weekend.

Each step taken honors someone who laid down their life to protect our freedom.

“For anyone who has lost someone in service to our country, they will tell you that participating in Carry The Load has made a lasting impact on their life,” Stephen Holley, co-founder, president and CEO of Carry The Load, said. “There is nothing like the human touch. Being in that environment, walking side-by-side one another, and sharing stories demonstrates beyond words that people do care.”

Anyone can be involved in the effort. Organizers invite people to walk with the national relay team, attend a rally, or host their own “Carry it Anywhere” event. You can learn more about the events planned around the relay at Carry the Load.

The non-profit organization also raises money to help the many challenges facing military members and veterans. The group said it has paid for counseling, adaptive training, service dogs, suicide prevention, home improvements, scholarships, and other programs.

It hopes to raise $2 million to help the military and first responders in 2022.

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