CAMP RIPLEY -- A Navy Veteran is attempting to be the first american to swim the Mississippi River, but his reasons are for much more then the glory.

It's a challenge many of us would back away from, but for Chris Ring it's a way to honor our fallen heroes.

Ring has been swimming the length of the Mississippi River to help raise awareness to the many families dealing with the loss of a loved one who served our country.

Chris Ring has families sign his kayak to honor their loved one. (Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON)

Ring began his journey back in June and today (Tuesday) made a stop at Camp Ripley where he was welcomed and thanked for his cause.

"No family should have to explain what a Goldstar Family is or raise awareness themselves, that's what we're here to do," says Ring.

The "Swim for a Sacrifice" challenge is put on by Legacies Alive, who is sponsoring Ring on his journey.

Along the way, Ring has met twelve Goldstar Families, hearing the stories of their loved ones.

Peg Manea, who lost her son, says it's amazing to hear what Ring is doing for so many families.

"It's nice to see someone working for those who are left behind and honoring the memory of sons, daughters, husbands and wives," says Manea.

Ring says before he leaves each family he asks the family sign a kayak that travels with him so when he faces struggles along the way he can see the names and use their stories as motivation.

"I go through every single name and put myself back to when I'm talking with these families and hearing these stories. Nothing I experience or feel in a day to day basis is nothing compared to what these families have gone through," says Ring.

Richard Cauley lost his son George in 2009, and says Rings journey is a great way to remember his son and many others.

"It keeps the memories alive because the worse thing that could happen is people forget," says Cauley.

Ring says his goal is to have everyone know what a Goldstar Family is and grow support for those families dealing with a loss.

He will continue his journey making his way down the river through St. Cloud in about the next week. He hoping to end his journey on December 12th.


Chris Ring swims down the Mississippi River. (Photo: Legacies Alive)