320-mile PA Hero Walk raises estimated $200K for wounded soldiers
The final steps of the 320-mile PA Hero Walk finished with a parade of walkers in neon green T-shirts along with a flurry of American flags and baby strollers at the VFW Post 92 in Lower Burrell.
About 150 walkers participated for the final 10-mile segment on Saturday, from the Allegheny Township War Memorial to Stewart School and Rite-Aid in Lower Burrell, to the Lower Burrell VFW.
The night before, there were about 350 walkers as the walk wound through Blairsville, to Saltsburg, to American Legion Post 114 in Vandergrift.
The two-week trek from Philadelphia to New Kensington is intended to raise awareness and money for wounded American soldiers and their families, according to Al Pulice, a Murrysville resident who organizes the event. The money pays for a number of programs to help service men and women recovering from severe injuries inflicted in the line of duty.
Pulice said this year's walk brought in about $200,000 — the most collected since the walk began five years ago.
After walking 320 miles, Pulice and the core group of walkers who made the entire trek were tired and happy to see the finish line.
“But this is a small sacrifice compared to what these soldiers give to their country,” Pulice said.
In addition to raising money, the sojourn on foot is meant to show the sacrifice and raise awareness.
“(W)e want to spread the word about the Wounded Warrior Project,” he said. “If you know someone who is sitting at home who is suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder, tell them about the program.”
As hundreds of walkers joined in at different points of the Hero Walk, there were a handful of Alle-Kiski Valley residents who completed the entire walk.
Besides a passion and a healthy respect for wounded soldiers, these walkers bandaged their feet in duct tape to ward off blisters for marathon mileage most days of their two-week odyssey.
“My favorite part was to listen to wounded warriors speak about their experiences, which gave more meaning to our walk,” said Jim Drnjevich, 63, of Murrysville, who served in the Marine Corps Reserve and the Army Reserve.
Joel Eyler, 60, of Allegheny Township said, “This is a good cause, and it's the least that I can do.”
Eyler said he served in the Marines and Army and retired from the Air Force.
Initially, Eyler said he participated simply to help.
But he found the walk to be therapeutic and it restored his faith in the American people.
“When we got to Philly, two inner-city kids selling lemonade asked what we were doing. When I told them, they took their money from their pockets and gave it to us.”
Shawn Haugh, 62, of West Leechburg, who said he served in the Marines Corps and the Air Force, said, “What better way to spend two weeks.”
Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.