Hikers raise money for Fisher House

Airman Edward Drescher
Kaiserslautern American

***image1***Hikers from the KMC took pledges and climbed a 5,000-foot mountain in the Swiss Alps to raise more than $5,000 for the Landstuhl Fisher Houses Saturday.

Master Sgt. Rob Jackson, Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe Logistics executive superintendent, who has been hiking in Switzerland many times, decided to combine two things he has a real passion for when he planned this fundraiser for the Fisher House.

“Hiking has always been there, and I have participated in a lot of Fisher House events, so combining the two just seemed right,” he said.

The Fisher House is an organization that supports members of the armed forces in their time of need. The Fisher House homes allow family members to be close to troops when they are hospitalized for unexpected illness, disease or injury.

The word about the event was spread through e-mails containing pledge sheets and information about the trip. People interested began taking pledges, and upon completion of the hike, pledges were collected.

Sergeant Jackson said he was just hoping to get three or four people to raise a couple hundred dollars.

The turnout was much greater than expected.

“Three or four people for a couple hundred turned into 13 people for over $5,000. I never thought the participation would be this big,” Sergeant Jackson said.

The hike wasn’t a walk in the park by any means. The hikers earned every cent of every pledge as they hiked a switchback trail that stretches nearly 12 miles to the top of the Augsmatthorn Mountain in Interlaken, Switzerland.

“Imagine being on a Stairmaster for five hours straight; at one point it comes down to willpower,” Sergeant Jackson said.

Although the hike was difficult, every person hiking made it to the top.

“It all comes together in one moment; to see the looks on the people’s faces and to see how happy they are to make it was awesome,” said Sergeant Jackson.

The Fisher House needs all the help they can get, as they have been stretched to the max since Operation Iraqi Freedom has been underway.

“It’s great that the Fisher House supports all branches of service and their families. It’s a great foundation,” said fellow hiker Staff Sgt. Anthony Loverde, 86th Maintenance Squadron.

Sergeant Loverde and Staff Sgt. Shauna Rode, 24th Intelligence Squadron, have been actively involved in the Bowens Open Window Foundation, which is a volunteer program to raise the morale of sick and wounded soldiers. They came across another opportunity to help wounded soldiers and they jumped on it.

“If I was down-range and something happened to me, I would want this type of support from people back home,” said Sergeant Rode.

Sergeant Jackson said he couldn’t have asked for a better weekend, it was a great time for a great cause.

“Everyone who contributed is a hero in their own way, as they covered all expenses out of their own pocket. This was a great group of people,” said Sergeant Jackson.