Dripping sweat after a four-day, 260-mile run through central Georgia, Jimmy Brannen grabbed a 6-ounce bottle of water Sunday afternoon outside the Fisher House at Fort Gordon and guzzled it in less than five seconds.
His son, Mark, rushed to his side to congratulate him on his finish.
Brannen was among six men from Millen, Ga., whose efforts over the weekend raised $3,500 for the Fisher House and the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Gordon.
The two programs – managed in support of Fort Gordon’s Eisenhower Army Medical Center – provide medical care and services to active and retired soldiers and their families.
“That water is awesome,” said an exhausted Brannen, as he took a large swig. “The finish-line bottle is the best.”
Brannen and his running mates found the sense of accomplishment and community service far more refreshing.
Brannen, Ray Miller, Chad Waters, Randy Brannen, Rick Lane and Rob Sharkey began their journey Thursday at Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga., with each man logging 20 miles a day to complete the effort.
Though the team ran 30 miles a week for a year in preparation, the rolling hills along central Georgia’s fall line, especially at the start, proved strenuous
The group said the Southern hospitality they encountered in each town they passed kept their eyes on the prize.
There was a pig picking in Montezuma, a motorcycle escort in Dublin and a $100 side-of-the-road donation outside Waynesboro.
“It was tough, but the people we met along the way really motivated us to keep going,” Waters said. “We never went through a town where the red carpet was not rolled out for us.”
The team, which has jogged together for much of the past decade and includes two military veterans, said its main mission was to make the soldiers they ran for feel as appreciated as they did during their relay run.
Fort Gordon Command Sgt. Ron Pflieger said that will not be a problem, assuring the group that he will put “every last cent of their donation to good use.”
An account has been set up at Queensborough Bank in Millen to receive donations, all of which will be given to the Wounded Warriors mission.
“The men they honored today are the ones who are across waters fighting for our freedoms,” Pflieger said. “Anything we can give to assist in them being productive citizens in the future, we are supportive of 100 percent.”