The number twenty-three has been on my mind lately. This past February, Spencer would have turned twenty-three. Of course, no one knows for sure what life would have been like for Spencer at twenty-three, but I often daydream about it. Because he talked about it often, I believe he would have come home from his deployment and either enrolled in college to study fire science (and try to play some football), or he would have put in his packet to go to flight school (probably the more likely of the two since that kid was crazy about Chinooks).

I think about my life at twenty-three. Still in college, I was finding my own path in life, making grown-up decisions (some turned out well, others not so much), and that summer was one of the best of my life. It was the year my group of friends watched Top Gun way too many times, which is funny because that was a movie Spencer and I watched together numerous times in that last year before his deployment. At twenty-three, I was eagerly anticipating those things yet to come in life: marriage, children, buying a home, making a difference in this world.

Spencer didn’t get a twenty-three. Or a twenty-two. Or college, or marriage, or children.

BUT in his twenty-one years he made a difference in this world. And he continues to do so. We still hear stories of how he touched someone’s life. People tell us of decisions they have made based on the example of Spencer’s courage. And we know for a fact that lives are being changed at Johnson County Community College. Within a few weeks of establishing book scholarships for student veterans, twenty-three student veterans applied for scholarships. Twenty-three. Twenty-three people who have already demonstrated courage and commitment by raising their hands and promising to protect and defend this nation. Twenty-three people who are picking up the pieces of the their lives and doing something about moving forward. Twenty-three people who may not have had the opportunity to start or continue their educational paths without this money. Twenty-three.

And that’s really why we are doing this. The Spencer C Duncan Make It Count 5K is a great way to honor our veterans and, hopefully, bring awareness to veterans’ needs, but it is also the primary fund-raising event for the Spencer C Duncan Make It Count Foundation which exists to honor and assist our nation’s veterans. Your participation and your support are helping to change lives, twenty-three at a time.

Thank you for your continued support.

~Megan Moore Duncan