ALLENDALE, Mich. — Side-by-side and one step at a time, a group of Marines, current and former, made their way along 68th Avenue in Allendale on Sunday.
“It’s been good, it’s been fun,” said Ryan Hucks. “Our bodies hurt, but it’s been interesting to go along the way.”
Since Friday, Hucks, Daniel Kersting, and Alex Livingston have been walking throughout Michigan. The trek started in Lansing and is set to end on Memorial Day in Grand Haven.
Over the last year, Kersting, who lives in the greater Grand Rapids area, felt the need to give back, so, he called a few friends and created “100 Miles for a Mission.”
“I just asked them to do this crazy thing and they were like, ‘O.K.,’” said Kersting.
Each leg is dedicated to raising awareness and money for All Things Possible, a nonprofit that provides trauma relief to children, women, and service members impacted by war, and Mighty Oaks Foundation, which focuses more on the veterans and their transition home.
“Not knowing for sure your paycheck, your healthcare, your benefits, everything it creates a sense of doubt almost,” said Hucks. “I think that’s what the hardest thing is, not knowing if you have a place.”
Kersting went through the program himself after his service and says he can attest to its impact.
“They have a faith-based program that really cuts down to the core and truly helps these veterans,” said Kersting. “It’s not just about awareness. They get to the problem and help you get through it.”
The group says it has collected $10,000 and hopes each stride makes a difference to help support veterans and those around them.
To end the journey, a Murph challenge will be held at 4 p.m. at Grand Haven City Beach.
It’s an annual workout meant to honor those who died while serving.
Anyone is welcome to join, but a $30 donation to one of the organizations is encouraged.