Why We Walk

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Editor's Note: 


We’re wishing our best to The Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity at Troy University who started their Walk Hard fundraiser today (March 9, 2018). Newsletter subscriber and fraternity member, Sam M., reached out to tell us what it’s all about and sent in the picture above.

 From Sam:

Started in 2009, Walk Hard is a six-day, 128.3-mile journey from Troy, AL to Panama City Beach, FL taking place from March 9th-14th

The hike will raise money and awareness for Jeep Sullivan’s Wounded Warrior Outdoor Adventures, which assists veterans who have been injured in war and are currently suffering from physical and mental ailments.

Sam, whose father served, wrote the thought piece below. We asked him why he’s proud to be an American. This was his response. 


Why We Walk

            I remember the first time I heard about Walk Hard. I was an 18 year old kid who thought he knew what sacrifice meant. I mean, I had been on sports teams. I fought through the pain of summer conditioning, dealt with the struggles of adversity, and suffered through the agony of loss. I was all too familiar with the word sacrifice, right? Boy, was I wrong.

            Before I talk about this amazing event, I thought it might be best to share the inspiration for my involvement. My family is filled with military service. Army, Navy, National Guard; World War 2, Vietnam, Desert Storm. You name it, my family served in it. I have always felt a deep pride for my country, namely because my family members have fought to protect it. But, like many families, protecting our country often came with a price.

            My dad dealt with a lot after Vietnam. He saw a lot. Stuff that no man should see. Especially a 20 year old kid. And unfortunately, he brought that back with him. PTSD. Addiction. Pain. Pain that he is still feeling almost 50 years later. Pain that my family has dealt with, and pain that ultimately separated my parents. So, when the opportunity came to make a difference and to try to help another family avoid that pain, I jumped at the opportunity.

That is why I walked, and it’s why I dedicate so much time to this event. Walk Hard is in its ninth year of existence. Started by the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity at Troy University in Troy, Alabama, this event is a six day, 128.3-mile hike from Troy, Alabama to Panama City Beach, Florida. Brothers of our fraternity donate their time, resources, and bodies to this cause by completing the grueling walk. This year, 34 of the greatest men I know will be making this sacrifice. And they do it all for veterans. Our cause benefits Jeep Sullivan’s Wounded Warriors Outdoor Adventures, Inc.

Mr. Jeep Sullivan meets the needs of veterans who have been injured in war and are currently suffering from physical and mental ailments. He meets these needs through outdoor activities such as hunting and fishing, providing our wounded service men and women the opportunity to regain some level of normalcy in their lives. Mr. Jeep Sullivan has served countless veterans who have had amputations, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and other serious, life-altering events. Jeep’s wife, whom we affectionately call Mama Meg, works with the wives and children of these veterans to help build a community for them as well. This organization literally saves lives. We are honored to walk for our service men and women.

One of the things that makes the walk so special for our guys is that Jeep brings along some of the veterans he helps to speak to us each night of the walk. These speeches are raw and hard to hear, but at the same time, they provide our walkers with insight and motivation to what we are doing. There’s a saying that “vision gives pain purpose”. Our walkers gain vision through these veterans’ speeches, and subsequently, our walkers’ pain gains more purpose. We hope the same for our veterans.

I love America. My fraternity brothers love America. We understand the great sacrifice that has been made so that America can be what it is today. We have the freedom to live the lives we choose solely because the Lord has blessed us with men and women who have made that sacrifice. To some, this may just seem like any other event, but to us it’s the furthest thing from that.

            This year, we have a $50,000 goal. In the past, we have raised thousands of dollars to support our veterans, but never before have we raised this much. We hope to change that this year. We understand the stigma. We understand what our nation thinks of fraternity men and millennials in general. We are committed to changing that. This event changes people. It changes our walkers, it changes our support team, and more importantly, it changes the lives of the families who benefit from Jeep’s organization and our fundraising efforts. Let me be clear, this walk does not come close to what our nation’s veterans have gone through. But if we can show our support, and gain a little insight to the daily struggle veterans go through, then we will always jump at that opportunity.

            If you would like to learn more about our cause, you can find us on Facebook at Alpha Tau Omega Walk Hard. If you feel inclined to donate, you can do so at the following link: https://ato.crowdchange.co/1852 .

 

Thank you, 

Sam M.  

Heroes AbroadOld Glory