On Oct. 30, 2007, Brittnay McCall opened her door to a military officer and a chaplain.
“On behalf of a grateful nation, we regret to inform you…” the officer read as he informed her of her husband’s death.
McCall said that was only the start of a long journey.
“For a long time, I didn’t know how to accept it, how to incorporate it, how to balance it with everyday life but still make it a part of life in general,” McCall said. “When I decided I wanted to go back to school, I wanted to incorporate what I’d been through into me being able to help other people.”
Almost six years after her husband, Sgt. Daniel McCall, was killed in Iraq, Brittnay McCall enrolled at Ohio State as a pre-nursing student.
“The war has been so big and there are ridiculous amounts of families affected,” McCall said. “It’s not just the spouse or the mother or the father, it’s siblings and sons and daughters, too.”
One student organization is looking to help those families.
This weekend, the student-founded philanthropic organization 1 Day for the K.I.A. raised money for families of fallen soldiers in a 24-hour endurance run.
McCall attended the event to cheer on the runners.
The money is set to be used to fund the Living Legacy Scholarship to benefit children and siblings of fallen military soldiers at OSU, said Air Force ROTC cadet Duck Yim, co-founder of 1 Day for the K.I.A. and fourth-year in architecture.
“What we mean by fallen is soldiers who have been killed in action, missing in action, held prisoners of war or 100 percent disabled due to being in war,” Yim said.
Yim did not provide the total amount raised by Sunday evening.
Five OSU Air Force ROTC cadets were considered sponsored runners, earning money for each mile they completed around the Oval from 9 a.m. Saturday to 9 a.m. Sunday. Up to 50 community members or groups were also permitted to participate if they made a minimum donation, according to the 1 Day for the K.I.A. website.
The minimum donation was $320 per individual, or for a group, $320 for the first person plus $50 for each additional group member. There were 50 slots, which could each be filled by either one person or one group, according to the 1 Day for the K.I.A. website.
When $50,000 has been raised, the funds are set to be placed into an endowment managed by OSU’s Development Team where interest accumulated will generate the funds for the scholarship annually, Yim said.
All of the money raised at the race goes to fund the scholarship, Yim said.
Yim said practical and emotional factors led him to start 1 Day for the K.I.A. sometime around July 2013.
“Our country has been involved in war for about 10 years now, and so far, 6,800 soldiers have been killed and another 51,000 have been wounded,” Yim said. “If you look at their families, the number of affected family members is over 202,000, over the population of a city.”
The Living Legacy Scholarship would help alleviate some of the financial strain put on these one-parent households as their children prepare to attend college at OSU, Yim said.
“Our team is 20 people right now, and a little more than half of those are ROTC cadets so we’re about to embark on our military career,” Yim said. “This scholarship is something that my kids could be receiving potentially and that’s what rings us at our core and what drives us.”
Matt Ovnic, a first-year in civil engineering and Air Force ROTC cadet, said he decided to participate as a sponsored runner because he loves a challenge and believes in the cause.
“I love this university, and if there’s someone who couldn’t go to this university because their family member passed away, but we can still give them that opportunity, I think that means a lot,” Ovnic said. “When you compare the pain of a 24-hour race to someone who was taken a bullet for this country, I definitely have the easier end.”