Chris Ring just swam a 2,552-mile course without leaving the middle of America. The former Navy SEAL showed true American grit by becoming the first of his countrymen to swim the entire length of the Mississippi.
According to Task & Purpose, Chris started swimming in Lake Itasca, Minnesota on June 6 and just finished his route by reaching the Gulf of Mexico last Friday. Despite a shoulder injury and describing himself as not a strong swimmer, he averaged 15 miles a day.
But the incredibly humble Chris emphasizes that the purpose of his mission is far greater than the physical accomplishment. Along his course, Chris pulled himself up onto the banks of the river and met with Gold Star families — families who had lost loved ones in military service — to listen to them and collect their stories.
His goal is that everyone will know what a Gold Star family is so they can honor them, and he gratefully explained that on his appearance this week on CBS This Morning.
"We have what we have today — we can do what we do today — because [fallen servicemembers] paid that sacrifice. Our beliefs, our values — everything we have is because of the sacrifice they paid. So for me doing this challenge was very humbling. I felt so lucky and privileged to be able to take it on and just meet these awesome families. [To] just hear the stories of their loved ones, carry it with me, and just raise awareness. These families — they paid that sacrifice. They shouldn't be raising awareness themselves or have those awkward times. [Being able to do that for them] has been an amazing adventure — a journey that is going to be with me for the rest of my life."
The Gold Star families he met along the way signed his two support kayaks, and seeing those messages covering the boats as he swam gave energy to his strokes.
When asked if he was ever tempted to give up, he replied, "At the end of the day, the difficultly and the burden I have swimming every day is going to be over. But the burden these families have is going to be with them for the rest of their lives. I couldn't just quit."
When he reached the Gulf of Mexico after 6 months of swimming, Gold Star families from eight states were there to greet him and celebrate his physical accomplishment, but more importantly, what he had done to stand up for the sacrifices of their loved ones.
Meet Chris and learn more about his mission by watching the brief interview below: