PepsiCo and Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation are joining forces for the seventh annual “Rolling Remembrance” cross-country American flag relay to help provide college scholarships and educational counseling to children who have lost a parent in the line of duty.
This year, 36 PepsiCo drivers who previously served in the United States military will transport an American flag that was flown in combat more than 10,000 miles across the United States from Seattle to New York. The relay will conclude at PepsiCo’s headquarters in Purchase, N.Y. over Memorial Day weekend.
Among the veterans taking part in this year’s relay is Iraq War veteran Belinda Mendoza, who helped transport the flag 40 miles from Lancaster, Texas to PepsiCo’s Plano headquarters.
“I love to drive, and love to travel, because every time I do, I get to see different things. I’ve turned my joy of being behind the wheel into a 21-year career at PepsiCo and when I heard about the Rolling Remembrance tour, I jumped at the chance to give back,” Mendoza told American Military News. “It’s a huge honor to be a part of and support the families of these fallen soldiers – just making sure they’re acknowledged, and that PepsiCo is there for them unconditionally.”
Mendoza joined the U.S. Army Reserve in 1997 and was eventually called up to active duty after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. She served three tours in Iraq, working as a truck driver who hauled tanks and other heavy equipment.
“I was blessed to come back three times when so many others didn’t get to make it back – so it’s an honor to be part of this program and even being able to celebrate Memorial Day,” Mendoza said. “I try to make a conscious effort to engage with other veterans working at PepsiCo, finding ways to connect with those based near me in San Antonio and attending local company events. And that’s exactly what Memorial Day means to me – honoring those we’ve lost but never forgetting the families and communities they left behind.”
PepsiCo has raised over $1.4 Million in donations for college scholarships and educational counseling for military children who lost a parent in the line of duty.
“To be a part of Rolling Remembrance is a huge honor for me. Driving in Rolling Remembrance is another way I work to make a positive impact in my community. I have friends who lost their lives overseas, and I’ve stayed connected to their families and kids,” Mendoza said. “To be able to help them in this way and get them the education they need is just awesome.”
Over the last 35 years, roughly 25,000 children have lost a mom or dad in military service, according to PepsiCo. Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation works to raise money for the education of Gold Star Children.
“Since 2015, PepsiCo has raised more than $1.4 million in donations, which have had impact on the lives of the Children of Fallen Patriots, their families and their communities,” David Kim, co-founder and CEO of Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation, said in a statement. “Investing in the education of military children who lost a parent in the line of duty is one of the best ways we can honor those who lost their lives defending our country and build up the next generation of leaders.”
Jim Farrell, Senior Vice President of Operations at PepsiCo Beverages North America Central Division, and a veteran himself, previously told American Military News that PepsiCo’s decision to partner with Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation stemmed from stories Farrell heard of children who had received scholarships. Farrell said that he thought it would be “an impactful way to honor our veterans, particularly those who are no longer with us – caring for their families.”
“As a veteran myself, I want gold star children to know we are here for them and will step in to support them. The sacrifice their parents made allows the rest of us to have our freedom and it’s crucial they don’t feel forgotten,” Farrell said.
“To the American children who have lost a parent in the line of duty: you are not forgotten, and we are here for you.”
To donate to Children of Fallen Patriots foundation, visit https://donate.fallenpatriots.org/RR2022.