Going the extra miles

Thomas Warner
LRMC Public Affairs

***image1***Spend some time helping those less fortunate and you come out feeling better about yourself. Even though you might be too tired to even walk to school.

Eight-year-old Billie Griffin smiled when he said his feet ached for three weeks after making his own long trek in hopes of helping others in need. He secured several monetary pledges then walked and ran nearly 17 miles to raise $900 as part of the Viking Challenge walking event held Sept. 8 and 9 at the Vogelweh track.

“I wanted to help Fisher Houses because what they do is good,” said Billie, who celebrated his eighth birthday the weekend of the event. “My goal was 80 laps and I came close to reaching it.”

Billie’s money was included with the $10,000 that was raised at the Viking Challenge and donated Tuesday to the LRMC Fisher Houses. The son of Tech. Sgt. Anthony and Sandi Griffin, the young man was a member of one of several teams competing to raise money.

“We had 23 teams with 10 people on each team,” said organizer Sgt. Willie Baker III. “Each team had an initial amount of $100 that they had to guarantee, so we already had $2,300 in place before we even started.”

Many people will be the beneficiaries of the money raised. Families of servicemembers wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom make up about 40 percent of the segment that uses Fisher Houses. The other 60 percent involves veterans, retirees, civilians, dependents or a range of other benefactors.

“With Fisher Houses, you truly see the impact of where your donation is going,” Sergeant Baker said. “You never know when you might be in a position of need and Fisher Houses are something where you see people’s hearts put into it. It’s whole-hearted what they do.”

Billie walked some of the course and ran at other intervals. Breaks were allowed for all participants and Billie said he ate pizza and other food set out under tents at the course.

“I thought it was a great idea and I asked him how much he expected to walk,” Lt. Col. Marie Berry, Chief of the Specialty Care Nursing Section at LRMC, said. “He’d done it last year just for fun and walked about 20 laps. This year he went 63 laps and I was happy to pay the pledge I’d made. To see someone that young who is already interested in doing charity work and trying to help others, it’s really unique.”