Six friends from Millen want to do their part in honoring those who sacrifice for their country.
From March 28-31, they will run across Georgia to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project.
Ray Miller, Chad Waters, Jimmy Brannen, Randy Brannen, Rick Lane and Rob Sharkey will begin a relay run March 28 at Fort Benning in Columbus and finish March 31 at the Fisher House on Fort Gordon.
“About 10 months ago we started talking about doing a relay as a fun thing,” said Miller, who served in the Air Force in the late 1960s. “Then we started thinking if we’re going to do a lot of miles, let’s do something and maybe pick up a charity.”
He said they chose the Wounded Warrior Project because the men share a strong patriotism and felt the organization does not get enough recognition.
The route they have chosen is about 260 miles. Each man will run three miles, then pass off the baton. He will then be driven nine miles to his next relay stop, where he will receive the baton and run another three miles.
Each runner will log about 20 miles a day, Miller said.
They will stop to sleep in Montezuma on Thursday and Dublin on Friday, then in their own beds in Millen on Saturday. On Sunday morning, they will run to Fort Gordon. The six will run together to the finish line, where they will present the fruits of their fundraising efforts to the Wounded Warrior Project.
An account has been set up at Queensborough Bank in Millen to receive donations, all of which will be given to the organization.
Hotel rooms in Columbus and Dublin have been donated, and a van and all of the gas are being donated by Daniels-Bishop Chevrolet in Metter. Krystal’s Taste of Kountry restaurant in Millen has donated Gatorade and snacks. Any additional expenses – including meals – will be paid for by the runners.
“This little thing that we’re doing is nothing compared to what (the soldiers) do for us every day,” Miller said.
Waters said the relay has helped him better appreciate the sacrifices soldiers make for his freedom. He said now he sometimes imagines himself in a wounded soldier’s shoes, and thinks of how his family would be affected if he went to war and came home with an injury that kept him from working to support them.
Often while they run, the guys talk about it, Waters said.
“I think we’ve all stepped back and really searched our souls and gotten close to this thing,” he said.
“My daughter Presley in there, a couple of weeks ago she brought me a Ziploc bag in there, and she had $16.38, and she said, ‘Daddy, I want to give this to the run,” Waters said. “She said, ‘Is this going to be enough for the soldiers?’ She’s
6 years old and given more than I’ve given, and I’m a grown man.”
He said he’s learned everyone can give something.
“We all love to run,” Waters said. “It’s kind of our way of giving back.”