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Thorold Legion to host barbecue fundraiser for homeless veterans

On Saturday the Thorold Legion will host a barbecue for a group marching the Bruce Trail for homeless veterans; 'One day we hope there’s no homeless veterans on the streets but we’re not there yet so we got to keep working'

This Saturday, the Thorold Legion will host a barbecue fundraiser for a group of men who have been marching the Bruce Trail since July 5, in hopes of raising money and awareness for homeless veterans.

The march is led by Hamilton resident Lino Di Julio and his organization Ruck 2 Remember.

“We’re doing an event called the Road to Recovery: Ruck the Bruce,” says Di Julio, in an interview with ThoroldToday. “It’s a 900 kilometres ruck march raising funds and awareness for the homeless and specifically for a program called ‘Operation: Leave the Streets Behind.’”

‘Operation: Leave the Streets Behind’ is a program run by the Royal Canadian Legion that aims to get homeless veterans off the streets.

“Anyone who offered to serve their country and committed to putting it all out on the line, including their life, shouldn’t have to suffer the indecency of homelessness,” says Di Julio. “Every tool should be given to them so they have every opportunity to get out of that situation and transition into society as a productive member.”

This is the ninth year Ruck 2 Remember is organizing a march to raise awareness for the cause.

“The first year we did Hamilton to Parry Sound and we carried a brick for every veteran who had lost their life in Afghanistan,” Di Julio says. “All the successive years after that we did two kilometres for every veteran and first responder that died the year before."

This year the team is trying to raise $500,000 by marching the 900 kilometres of the Bruce Trail, from Tobermory to Queenston Heights, stopping at different legions along the way.

“We’ve run into countless other veterans who have served with guys that are on the team,” Di Julio says. “Just sitting down, sharing stories, and reconnecting, that has probably been the most enjoyable part.”

Di Julio says that marching every day for over a month takes its physical and mental toll after a while.

“34 days trekking through the Bruce Trail is not necessarily the easiest thing I’ve ever done,” he says. “The terrain can be pretty treacherous. In the Bruce Peninsula there are parts where you’re basically just rock climbing. It can be definitely challenging, but from a mental perspective the hardest part is being away from my wife and my daughter.”

Luckily the team has seen incredible support from local communities along the way.

“Seeing the community come out and support means a huge deal to us,” Di Julio says. “That stuff has been incredible. If it wasn’t for all the people coming out in support we would be basically beating ourselves for no reason, so the community coming out is really the critical thing about this whole thing.”

On Saturday, August 6 the group will stop by at the Thorold Legion on Ormond Street, where a barbecue fundraiser will be held at 6 p.m. 

After a good night of sleep in Thorold, the group will end their 34-day long march in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Di Julio says the team has so far raised $170,000 and they will keep donations open until November to hopefully reach the $500,000 goal.

If you want to donate to Ruck 2 Remember you can do so through their GoFundMe page, or at the barbecue fundraiser on Saturday.

“It’s great that we can continue helping people,” Di Julio says. “One day we hope there’s no homeless veterans on the streets but we’re not there yet so we got to keep working.”


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About the Author: Bernard Lansbergen

Bernard was born and raised in Belgium but moved to Canada in 2012 and has lived in Niagara since 2020. Bernard loves telling people’s stories and wants to get to know those that make Thorold into the great place it is
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