Organizers say the inaugural Clemson 8 Challenge, the virtual remembrance march in honor of the eight Clemson alumni who survived the Bataan Death March in World War II, was a great success.
Participants signed up to walk, hike, run, or bike a marathon, half-marathon, or an 8-mile commemorative march at the pace of their choosing over eight days.
A team of students, alumni, and friends created the event largely for 1938 Clemson alum and Bataan Death March survivor Col. Ben Skardon, 103, who walked in the annual Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico twelve times before the COVID-19 pandemic shut it down. The Clemson 8 Challenge was created so that Skardon’s mission — to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country in one of the most brutal wartime events in history — will carry on.
Skardon was the first one to sign up for the Clemson 8 Challenge and walked eight miles over the course of six days.
Joining Skardon either in person or remotely were:
- 1,087 individuals from 34 states, Germany, London, Guam and one Marine stationed in Bahrain.
- 140 JROTC cadets representing 19 high schools from Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
- 45 college ROTC cadets who “ruck marched” with 35-pound backpacks.
The event raised more than $22,000. All of the proceeds will benefit the Clemson University ROTC Department to fund scholarships and send a group of cadets to compete in the 2022 Bataan Death March Memorial Race.
Organizers hope to make the Clemson 8 Challenge an annual event.