The "Clemson 8" Challenge continues through Sunday, March 28, in Las Cruces.
A small, private opening ceremony was held March 21, and participants of all ages are invited to join the challenge of completing eight miles in eight days, competing at their own pace on following their schedules.
Visit www.facebook.com/TheClemson8 and https://runsignup.com/Race/SC/YourOwnLocation/ClemsonEightBataanDeathMarchRemembrance?remMeAttempt to sign up.
The event is an offshoot of the White Sands Missile Range Bataan Memorial Death March, created because of pandemic interrupted the march, said Kathryn “Katie,” Lewis von Ende.
“This is a virtual race,” von Ende said. “You can complete your own walk, run or hike, on your own course in your own town. And, you can complete it in one day or throughout the eight-day period.“
Von Ende, said 100 percent of the proceeds from the challenge 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 at the White Sands Missile Range.
Von Ende’s father, Jack Lewis, of Deming, was a survivor of the Bataan Death March.
The challenge commemorates eight Clemson University graduates who survived the Bataan Death March, only three of whom survived the POW incarceration that followed. One of the eight, U.S. Army Col. Ben Skardon, who turns 104 in July, is a challenge participant. He began participating in the Bataan Memorial Death March in 2007.
“When Ben started walking, there were just maybe five of us,” Lewis von Ende said. “By 2019 there were about 90 in Ben's Brigade – family, former students, old and new friends – he's a magnet. When the numbers started increasing, he established Mile 3 as my mile to walk with him – everyone wanted to be on his arm, of course.”
Visit Ben's Brigade and Ben Skardon on Facebook and soh.alumni.clemson.edu.