The Spencer C. Duncan Make It Count Foundation

For Dale and Megan Duncan, summer 2011 began as it had many times before. They were living with their three sons in a comfortable suburban neighborhood among families like their own. However, on Aug. 6, the doorbell rang and brought news that would change their lives forever. Their oldest son, Spencer, an Army Specialist with the 7/158th Aviation Regiment, had been killed in action.

The Spencer C. Duncan Make It Count Foundation was formed to honor Spencer and continue his legacy of service. Its primary mission is to support organizations and individuals working to improve the lives of our country’s veterans.

“We started with our passions: education, homelessness and PTSD. Dear friends did some early research and brought us ideas for partnerships,” Megan says. “Our board of directors guides the giving process, so we achieve maximum impact with our resources.”

After learning about veterans who could not afford books for college, the Make It Count Foundation started a book scholarship program.

“For some, benefits have run out. Some have used all of their benefits; others have benefits that don’t cover book costs,” Megan says. “Something as simple as a $500 scholarship for books makes it possible for a veteran to return to school. After receiving letters from recipients of those scholarships, we saw how their lives were changed.”

The Foundation’s main fundraiser is a 5K race that will be held on Saturday, Aug. 4. This race is unique in many ways, most notably its location. The race takes place at and around the air base that Spencer and his unit deployed from, New Century Air Center near Gardner, Kansas.

“I think there is something for everyone. If you are a serious runner, our course is flat and fast,” she says. “If you want to bring your dog, push a stroller or walk with your kiddos, you’ll be in great company. If you want to walk through a Chinook helicopter, we’ve got one. If you are inspired by patriotism, we’ve covered that, too. It really is a great event for just about everyone.”

Volunteer opportunities are also available for anyone interested.

“One of my favorite things every year is the early morning hours before the run starts,” she says. “It’s still dark when our volunteers arrive, but they come with their game faces on. Amazing individuals, all of them. I love watching their faces.” 

“Make it count.” These were the words Dale said to his family each day as he headed out the door. That phrase has had a significant impact on both the beneficiaries and the volunteers involved.

“The concept of making our lives count is so simple and simultaneously so profound,” Megan says. “To see people inspired by the Make It Count message is just validation that good people want to be part of something that makes a difference.”

The Duncan family plans to continue assisting with issues affecting our nation’s veterans but realize they cannot solve them all. 

“What we can do, however, is give hope,” Megan says. “Maybe it’s a book scholarship or an opportunity to go through a PTSD treatment program. If you give one person hope, you can change that person’s life.”

What started out as a small gesture of kindness toward those who have served our country has become a life-changing experience for the Duncans.

“We miss Spencer every day, but the people he has brought into our lives continue to inspire us to do everything we can to help our veterans. We really just want to make it count.”

For more information, visit MakeItCountToday.org.