Community

Making It Count

An Olathe family honors its son by creating the Spencer C. Duncan Make It Count Foundation and 5K, happening Aug. 6th.

When Dale and Megan Duncan opened their front door, the uniformed soldiers on the porch told them the news they never wanted to hear.

Their son, Army Specialist Spencer Duncan, had died in combat on Aug. 6, 2011—the deadliest day on record during the Afghanistan War. Thirty U.S. soldiers were killed that day when a helicopter was shot down.

“The community of Olathe itself just completely supported us in so many ways,” Dale says. “It was amazing.”

In the aftermath of their family tragedy, Dale and Megan knew they had to two things to do: continue to honor their son’s name so others could understand and remember his sacrifice and carry on his legacy by honoring other veterans.

These desires led to the creation of the Spencer C. Duncan Make It Count Foundation. The organization’s name comes from the phrase Dale regularly says to his three children. Those three words were the last Spencer said to his father.

As a nonprofit, Make It Count seeks to touch the lives of veterans through a handpicked selection of assistance organizations. For example, Make It Count has donated funds in Spencer’s name to local group Save a Warrior, an organization specializing in helping veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Make It Count also offers textbook scholarships and donations to programs benefiting veterans pursuing higher education as well as contributing to other veteran-focused organizations

A friend of the Duncans’ suggested hosting a Make It Count 5K. Not knowing what to expect, the Duncans set out and found something more than they’d ever expected: 500 people turned out and raised $20,000 on that first race day. The race has grown every year, and through the event, Make It Count has raised more than $180,000.

The Duncans are excited to thank the soldiers, veterans and their families as well as honor their commitments and sacrifices at this year’s race. Though honoring his fallen soldier is important, the family says the race is in memory of all service members who haven’t come home.

“We have a chance to every day remember, honor and to talk about him—mostly remember,” the Duncans say. “We have a chance to tell other people about him who didn’t know him. We have a chance to build a legacy and carry that forward, so that in his name people are getting help.”

The fifth annual Spencer C. Duncan Make It Count 5K Run/Walk will be held Saturday, Aug. 6 at New Century AirCenter in Gardner. Register online at MakeItCountToday.org. –Lauren Rutherford