When Buffalo State alumnus Jason Jaskula, ’96, returned from active duty in Iraq, he knew he wanted to honor those soldiers who did not come home.
“I volunteered to help as many fellow veterans as I could,” Jaskula said. “But I realized that there was no single public event in Western New York to honor military members killed in action (KIA) in the forefront.”
Last year, Jaskula, who graduated from Buffalo State with a degree in sociology, founded and organized the KIA Memorial Road March as a way to raise funds for local veterans’ organizations and pay tribute to fallen soldiers.
Now in its second year, the march will be held Saturday, August 23, at 11:00 a.m. (check-in begins at 9:00 a.m.) at Chestnut Ridge Park in Orchard Park, NY.
Marchers follow a 10-mile route and carry a ruck sack filled with 40 to 50 pounds of canned goods (donated after the event). The march was wildly successful in its first year, gathering over 5,000 pounds of provisions for veterans in need and the Buffalo State Food Pantry.
"We achieved our dual goals of raising money for local veterans and, just as importantly, honoring the memory of those 60 service members from Western New York killed in action during Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn," said Jaskula. "Now the idea has grown—we will march in honor of all service members from New York State killed in action since World War I."
Although designed with the military in mind, the march is open to all. Event details and registration can be found at kiamemorialmarch.com.