On May 29th we celebrated Memorial Day, a holiday where the nation pauses to reflect, remember, and honor those in the military who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom: their lives. Each year on Memorial Day weekend, an event called the Dallas Memorial March is put on by Carry the Load.
Carry the Load is an organization dedicated to bringing awareness and honor to our nation’s military heroes not just for Memorial Day, but every day. The Dallas Memorial March is a two-day walking event celebrating veterans, remembering the fallen, and educating participants. It’s a culmination of Carry the Load’s Memorial May initiative, which is a month-long series of marches, rallies, and fundraising events all around the country.
Each year, employees from Hill & Wilkinson and their families participate in the Dallas Memorial March. Drew Shubzda is a former Hill & Wilkinson employee who was instrumental in getting the company involved with Carry the Load. His brother Matt was a lieutenant in the Navy and lost his life during a training accident in 2002, and Drew has been advocating for veterans and fallen heroes ever since. We had the privilege of hearing from him about how his brother inspired him to get involved with Carry the Load and what he hopes for other people to know about those who give the ultimate sacrifice so that we can enjoy our freedom.
1. How long did you work at Hill & Wilkinson (and when) and what was your position here?
I worked at Hill & Wilkinson from September 2006 to March 2015. I started out as a project engineer, then assistant superintendent, and then superintendent.
2. What is Carry the Load and how did you get involved with it?
Carry the Load is an organization that was founded by two close friends, Clint Bruce and Stephen Holley, with the mission to restore the true meaning of Memorial Day. I am a huge believer in Stephen Holley. The story behind Carry the Load hit my heart strings, and I knew it was an organization I would support and participate in. I was at my parents’ lake house Memorial Day weekend in 2011 when my mother sent me an email from Stephen Holley about the event. I went the first year, which was in 2011, and watched him cross the finish line. When he passed a picture of my brother to me and said “Here’s to the first Annual Carry the Load,” I knew I would put forth the effort to walk all night in honor of my brother for years to come. I once heard Stephen say, “Physical pain = emotional purge,” and it resonated with me in a strong way.
3. What about your brother encourages and inspires you?
Matt loved this great country, loved serving it, and loved his community. Despite the age difference between us, Matt set the stage for us following behind him, whether that be in the same path or a different path. One example of how he inspires me is setting high goals and working hard to achieve them, which he did really well. His humble attitude and love for others was contagious. I have always had a small hole in my heart that I chose different routes in life other than serving. I don’t think I ever truly regretted not following in his footsteps; I have always wanted to fill my own shoes, but I have always just wanted to be able to set those high goals and work hard to achieve them like he did. He also truly cared more about others. I am inspired to think of others before myself, as he did extremely well.
4. What influenced you to start sharing you and your brother’s story at Hill & Wilkinson and beyond?
I honestly think my personal connection to Clint, Stephen, and the entire Carry the Load family has helped inspire me to participate each year in the Dallas Memorial March, along with other miscellaneous events held throughout the year. And being at Hill & Wilkinson, knowing the type of company it is and working with so many great folks along the way, I just knew that this could be a great fit of an organization that H&W would want to get behind, support, and participate in. And I love sharing Matt’s story; Matt has impacted so many lives, even to this day.
5. What is one thing that you wish for other people to know about Carry the Load? About service men and women in general?
Of the $38 million raised since 2011, 93% goes towards Carry the Load’s three programs: Awareness, Continuum of Care, and Education. I believe this is a really important stat.
6. Where can people go to find more information and resources about Carry the Load? About supporting veterans and their families?
Carry the Load’s website: https://www.carrytheload.org/
You can read/watch more of Drew’s story here.