The Fort Campbell Courier

Residents ‘Walk to Afghanistan’ to support troops

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Posted: Thursday, July 15, 2010 3:09 pm

If the average person can walk a mile in 17 minutes, without stopping, it would take nearly 85 days to reach Afghanistan. 

While walking 24/7 for almost three months is an impossible task, walking the 7,230 miles to Afghanistan is what one dedicated bunch of Fort Campbell civilians and Soldiers aims to do. 

Starting April 1, the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Sports Office, kicked off the ‘Walk to Afghanistan’ program and since then, dozens of teams have formed up to meet the challenge. 

“You can walk, run, swim, bike and even roller-skate,” said Joe Schippers, Morale Welfare and Recreation sports. 

Participants have one year to complete the mileage and can form a team to combine their totals, said Schippers.  The mission to go the distance isn’t new, but presents more of a challenge than previous walks.

“We did the walk to Iraq and said well since they’re deploying again, might as well go to Afghanistan. Unfortunately, Afghanistan is a little bit farther,” he said. 

One thousand miles farther to be exact. 

“That’s a lot of miles,” said Schippers.

But the added distance, isn’t deterring Fort Campbell civilians Stacey Taylor and Bryan Pitman, aka, the ‘Running Rebels.’ 

“We walk three to four miles at lunch every day,” said Pitman, a former 4th Brigade Combat Team Soldier.

Pitman’s team doesn’t just walk though. They are running, biking and even Jazzercising their way to the ‘Stan.

“I do sporadic bike rides, and for every two miles on a bike counts towards a mile,” he said. “Every 15 minutes of aerobics at the gym counts towards one mile too – those are tough miles!”

Staying motivated is no sweat for the team, who has already logged more than 500 miles. 

“It’s phenomenal what the Soldiers go through on deployment, so anytime I hear of some small token to show support and to show that we acknowledge you – and in the mean time I can get some exercise and get out of the house – I’m all for it,” said Taylor. 

When Taylor was first asked to take the challenge, she wasn’t so psyched.

“When Bryan asked me to be on his team to walk to Afghanistan, I was like, are you crazy? Do you realize how far that is?”

But for Taylor, Pitman and the rest of the ‘Running Rebels,’ the motivation to acknowledge the sacrifices of Fort Campbell Soldiers, outweighed the thought of walking thousands of miles.

“If they are over there gunning for five to six hours a day or doing dismounted patrols, the least we can do is get out and walk for them,” said Pitman. “No matter what the belief is on the war, the guy or girl standing on the front line didn’t have a choice. They have a mission and they need the homefront to support that mission.”

The Fort Campbell Sports Office is still taking registrations, said Schippers, who recently signed up a team from Hawaii. 

“Parents are supporting this from all over the states,” he said. “We had one of our Soldier’s mothers call and thank us for this kind of support and that makes it worth it.”

To register for MWR Walk to Afhganistan, call (270) 798-3094 or visit their Web site at www.fortcampbellmwr.com/Recreation/sports.

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