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Local veteran reaches halfway mark in walk across America

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RONAN — Treasured Mission Valley resident and Marine Corps veteran Chuck Lewis set out to walk across the country March 31 from Everett, Wash. by putting one foot in front of the other. Three months and 1,700 miles later, Lewis reached the halfway mark in Floodwood, Minn. last week where he was treated to a hero’s welcome. 

“Several veterans from town meet me on the outskirts,” he said. “They knew it was the midpoint in my journey, so it was nice to have them come out and welcome me. It was pretty cool to be surrounded by my brothers.”

Lewis is now 30 miles into Wisconsin, traveling south toward Chicago, Ill. before he turns east once more and heads for the Atlantic Ocean. 

The 3,300 mile journey will take him through 14 states, four time zones and nearly every terrain imaginable — from Pacific beaches to Rocky Mountains, The Great Plains to the East Coast. However, his journey is much more than just a walk in the park. Lewis’ goal from the very beginning was to raise $50,000 for wounded and disabled veterans while reminding Americans of the cost of freedom through speaking engagements and presentations. 

Having traveled through Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Minnesota, Lewis has raised nearly $20,000 and reached his halfway mark five days ahead of schedule.

“Coming through Minnesota was a joy for many reasons,” he remembered. “The people that were there really got behind me in terms of support. There were people who called and wrote letters across the state to let others know I was coming in, and one of the radio guys was broadcasting about the journey as I walked across the state, letting people know where I was at. It was great.”

Lewis, a former ultra-marathon runner, said that when he started the walk, he felt like he was in shape. 

“Round is a shape,” he said with a laugh. “Now, three months later, I’m finally starting to get into shape and the journey is going well.”

Lewis added that he’d traveled through nine Indian reservations in several states, and that he enjoyed these routes quite a bit because the veteran communities within the reservations supported him. 

“The reservations get a bad wrap,” he said. “So many people I talked to said, ‘Oh, you’re going through this reservation. Watch out, be careful, etc. .... but the veteran community stepped up and were out there to greet me, and as I walked across the reservations I had support and protection ... I felt like I was being looked after. That was true of all the reservations.”

Continuing his journey south, Lewis’ favorite aspect of the trip continues to be the opportunities he has to speak with people of similar interests and enthusiasm; experiencing the nation’s patriotism first-hand. 

“It’s kind of nice,” he said. “There are a lot of patriots out there.”

Lewis is back on the road, walking more than 20 miles a day in wet, hot, windy, and sometimes dangerous conditions all so he can raise a few dollars for a few fellow wounded veterans. An account has been established at Community Bank for donations to the cause, and donations are always welcome on Lewis’ website, www.WalkingForTheFallen.com.

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