For Gary Porter, it's all about America's fighting men and women.
This Saturday, Porter and the Harrington American Legion CRKT Post 7 will continue to make good on their promise to support the nation's soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines with a 5 kilometer event dubbed the Walk for Our Wounded Warriors.
Money collected for the Walk will support the American Legion's Operation Comfort Warriors project.
OCW is a national Legion effort that gives items to wounded, injured or ill military personnel that normally are not provided by the government. Those items can range from calling cards to sweat suits to DVDs and books. OCW also has provided larger items for common recreation areas such as entertainment centers and computers.
“I have one true passion,” Porter, 68, said, “and that's our veterans.
“When I first thought this up, I went to one of our regular meetings and asked if I'd get the support I needed.
“I was told, 'Absolutely.'”
That was two years ago. Porter, who retired as a staff sergeant in 1988 following a 24-year military career, spent 12 months planning the first event. That 5K walk took place in July 2012, and had almost 70 participants.
He's hoping to at least triple that number on Saturday.
Those doing the walk will receive a T-shirt and a map laying out the course, which will start and end at the Legion building on South DuPont Highway. The course will be marked out using 150 traffic cones, which Porter and a group of ROTC cadets will start setting up at 5 a.m.
There will be water stations every mile and a supply of fresh fruits waiting at the finish line.
“It's all nutritious and good for you,” Porter said. “No junk food.”
Harrington law enforcement officers, fire police and emergency medical technicians will be on hand to provide traffic control and additional support, he said.
Because part of the course lies along the highway, safety is a prime concern. Last year's event went off without a hitch, except for one unfortunate hiker who tripped at a railroad crossing, Porter said.
Porter's connections in the community have been a tremendous help in setting an event such as the Walk for Our Warriors. He's gotten donations from Food Lion, Walmart, Redner's, Bylers and from private sources, as well as the use of Legion facilities. That means he'll have no overhead, and will be able to provide 100 percent of the donations to OCW.
With Saturday's weather expected to be in the low 80s, with partial cloud cover and no chance of rain, Porter expects a good turnout with a lot of camaraderie.
“This will be a real family affair,” he said. “I've got 200 T-shirts ready to go, and I want to find someone to wear every one of them.”
Page 2 of 2 - For more information on the Walk for Our Warriors event, call the Legion hall at 398-3566 or visit www.ckrtpost7.org.