On Aug. 31, Roy Wesley “Wes” Brady Jr. reached his destination – Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, Calif.
He had walked nearly 3,000 miles to raise money for Walk 4 Warriors.
The retired gunnery sergeant Marine began his trek March 1 when he left he U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Center in Charlotte.
Brady, who lives in south Charlotte, was accompanied for the first half mile by several Marines who were showing their support.
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“I wanted to do something meaningful for wounded combat veterans,” Brady said. “I saw a lot during my two tours in Iraq, and was myself lucky to make it back unharmed. The organization Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge is the group I chose to help.”
More than $12,000 has been raised as a result of Brady’s walk and more donations are coming in. For information, go to http://combatwounded.org/walk, or to Brady’s Walk 4 Warriors Facebook page.
I found that lots of people in our country support the military. I wondered ‘where’s all the bad stuff you hear about?’ I didn’t see it. I think Americans are great. I interacted with people of all ages and races, both male and female, and everyone was so nice and treated me with respect.
Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge works to improve the lives of wounded or injured veterans. Located in Tarpon Springs, Fla., the nonprofit focuses its efforts on education, rehabilitation, research and innovations in field-based assessments/treatment of orthotics and prosthetics, Post Traumatic Stress and traumatic brain Injury.
Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge Creative Director Wendy Westbrook said, “We do research and case studies in some extreme conditions, testing equipment strength as well as individual strength and resilience. Our motto is ‘Wounded – Not Conquered.’”
Carrying a 60-pound backpack, the 42-year-old Brady said he wore out three pair of shoes as he hiked through eight states weathering heat, thunderstorms, flooding and dirt roads.
“I purposely chose back roads for the walk, so I could see the country on my own, with my own eyes,” he said. “I met some awesome people along the way. I was treated to dinner, told about the local history and offered places to spend the night. I found that lots of people in our country support the military. I wondered ‘where’s all the bad stuff you hear about?’ I didn’t see it. I think Americans are great. I interacted with people of all ages and races, both male and female, and everyone was so nice and treated me with respect.”
The six-month hike wasn’t without some challenges, however.
Brady lost his cellphone in Little Rock, Ark. He eventually bought a pre-paid phone. He also hurt his back, and had to spend several nights in a motel to rest.
Marines from across the country kept tabs on Brady and reached out to others along his path to give support whenever possible.
“One guy gave me a pushcart and it saved my life,” Brady said. “I was able to put my backpack in it, and walk without putting stress on my back. I walked from Amarillo, Texas, to California with the pushcart.”
Brady said kept his mind focused on those he wished to help and it made the trip easier.
When Brady arrived in California, he was greeted with an outpouring of gratitude and respect. He said a welcoming reception was held at the American Legion in Vista, Calif.
My husband, Tony, and I were fortunate enough to attend the event. We were in California for a ship christening.
Tony has worked in container shipping all his life. He now works as a consultant and speaker.
Marine veterans had made gifts for Brady, such as plaques and banners, which we all signed. Everyone was touched by what Brady had accomplished to help his wounded brothers and sisters.
Karen Scioscia is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Want to help?
Visit http://combatwounded.org/walk to make a donation.