Troy Yocum and his dog Emmie walked from the Truman Library to the City Market in Kansas City Wednesday. The trek was more than just exercise.
Troy Yocum and his dog Emmie walked from the Truman Library to the City Market in Kansas City Wednesday. The trek was more than just exercise. It was 10 miles out of 7,000 of Yocum’s Drum Hike, a fundraiser for Soldiers’ Angels, a nonprofit which provides financial and other support for military personnel and their families.
Yocum decided to act, because he personally knew soldiers and veterans who were suffering.
“My good friend came home from Iraq to find his job gone,” Yocum said. “I thought, someone needs to do something.”
Yocum, an Iraq war veteran, started his journey in April, and plans on walking for 16 months, with a goal of raising $5 million for Soldiers’ Angels. He started walking in Louisville, Ky., and will traverse the country around-and-back, visiting such cities as Los Angeles, San Antonio, and Boston before returning to Louisville.
Yocum had heard of other individuals who had raised large sums of money with similar walks, but he hadn’t heard of anyone who had gone across the country and back.
“I said to myself, ‘What would be the best way to spread awareness across America,’” Yocum said. “I decided it would be to walk across America.”
In addition to money, Yocum is walking for another cause, The Day of the Deployed.
“Soldiers’ Angels has been pushing for a national day to honor the deployed,” Yocum said.
Yocum is collecting signatures from public officials in support of The Day of the Deployed along his walk. But he does not have a petition.
“I did not want to take a piece of paper to Washington,” he said.
Yocum thought a paper petition would wind up in a stack of papers on Capitol Hill, so he’s using something bigger.
“We have teamed up with Louisville Slugger,” Yocum said. “We are collecting signatures on bats.”
The bats will be presented to congress in May 2011 when Yocum makes his appearance in Washington, D.C.
Emmie, the Shiba Inu, does more than accompany Yocum on his walks.
“She visits V.A. hospitals along the route,” Yocum said.
Today, Three Dog Bakery on the Country Club Plaza gave Emmie a spa-day and a check for $400 to help the cause.
As of today’s Independence to Kansas City walk, Yocum has walked 1,100 of the 7,000 miles. So far, he has raised more than $56,000 toward his goal of $5 million. After starting in Louisville, he has also made appearances in Indianapolis, Chicago and St. Louis.
Despite walking for a good cause, Yocum is not without his detractors.
“There’s one (Web) site that likes to bash me,” Yocum said, “but the Internet is free for anyone to say whatever they want.”
Yocum doesn’t want politics to get in the way of his cause.
“No matter what you think of the war,” Yocum said, “you need to support the soldiers who are just following orders.”
Yocum is chronicling his efforts at www.followtroy.com, and accepting donations at www.drumhike.com. Donors can also text the word soldiers to 20222 to give a $5 donation to the cause. Donors can give six text donations per month, for a total of $30. Soldiers’ Angels was organized as a 501(3)(c) nonprofit in 2004. They provide care packages, financial assistance and more to military personnel and their families. They can be reached at www.soldiersangels.org