Everything about the third Lansdale Hometown Hero Walk this summer is falling in line.
Its cadence of popularity has consistently brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Wounded Warrior Project. All in all, $630,000 has been raised for the national organization since the inception of the PA Hero Walk, with about $100,000 raised in Lansdale alone. Last year, the walk raised $46,000.
Lansdale Hometown Hero Walk Organizer and PA Hero Walk Outreach Coordinator Michael “Bish” Rieg, an Army veteran living in Upper Gwynedd, expects 2,000 walkers this year, which would double last year’s attendance.
Also, Lansdale’s Hero Walk coincides with Flag Day. Thus, every walker at the event will be given a flag by Rieg.
The PA Hero Walk began as a 320-mile trek across Pennsylvania to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. In 2013, several communities brought that walk down to the microcosmic level, organizing walks to raise money for U.S. veterans.
This year, however, things will be different.
No more will the money go from the PA Hero Walk and Hometown Walks to Wounded Warrior; all proceeds will be funneled directly to Pennsylvania veterans’ organizations.
So far, Veternas Multi-Service Center in Philadelphia, Semper Fi Outddor Odyssey in Boswell, Mechling-Shakley Veterans Center in Cowansville, and Operation Homefront are beneficiaries of the 2014 event. He said each group applies for consideration of the money and the PA Hero Walk checks them out financially before bringing them on board.
“We’d like to be able to keep the money here,” Rieg said. “It’s more important to direct it to veterans that we know that need help.”
Rieg said it was more of the organization’s idea to make the Hometown Walks Pennsylvania projects.
“We want to choose groups that will get the money and use the money right,” he said. “We are asking people to keep the money here and donate here and help our vets here. We have one of the largest veteran populations in the country. The National Guard in Pennsylvania, for instance, is one of the largest numbers of all the states the U.S.”
Rieg said the PA Hometown Walk is a group of 10 volunteers that work on it actively every year.
“This is a huge change in our mission. It’s a big move to say we’re going to choose these Pennsylvania groups and distribute money. Most of the volunteers are hard-working people. It’s a time-consuming process,” Rieg said.
Cost for the walk is a $20 donation for adults and $10 for youths. Each person receives a T-shirt with the donation. Registration is 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Trinity Lutheran Church at 1000 W. Main St., Lansdale.
Pre-registration has ended for the event.
The walk begins at 10:30 a.m., leaving the church down West Main Street to Memorial Park at East Main and Line streets. There, walkers circle back to the church.
Everyone and anyone can walk: Veterans, patriots, injured servicemen and women, moms, dads, granddads, grandmoms, friends, and children.
The Red Hill Band will perform at the event.
Details on the PA Hero Walk can be found at www.paherowalk.org.