Retired World Series champion Kevin Millar is rarely speechless, but on a segment of his MLB Network "Intentional Talk" show last week Millar said he was overwhelmed by the heroism shown by Iraq War veteran Troy Yocum.
For the last 12 months Yocum has been banging his own personal drum and quietly drawing attention to America's military families in need. He has walked over 6,000 miles and nearly 34 million steps across the United States in that time.
He is walking with his wife Mareike and two dogs Harley the laughing Chihuahua and Emmie the energetic Shiba Inu. Their "Hike for Our Heroes," has raised nearly $500,000 for military families in trouble because of job losses, health problems and financial need.
The goal is $5 million.
Yokum, 31, a native of Louisville, Ky. is scheduled to arrive in New York City's Times Square today, Wednesday, June 15. Well wishers will greet him during a cocktail party at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers. Then he'll continue walking through New England and be in Boston for Independence Day on July 4.
He hopes to complete 7,000 miles of walking on Saturday, Sept. 4 at Louisville, Ky. There, Louisville Slugger has donated $1,000 and the company has challenged everyone in the country to step up to the plate and donated what they can.
Donations are being handled and managed through the Wish Upon a Hero Foundation based in Moorestown, N.J.
Yokum served eight years on and off with the National Guard and Reserve units of the U.S. Army and was stationed in Iraq in 2008-09. He said he was struck by the plight of U.S. veterans who have shown high rates of depression, suicide, post-traumatic stress disorder, financial woes and unemployment over the last 10 years.
He resolved to single-handedly draw attention to the plight of veterans by walking across America to raise money. He started April 17, 2010. Since, Yocum, his wife and dogs have walked across the Midwest, through Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California to Texas, back through the Deep South to Virginia and Maryland.
Yocum said he had to walk for nearly a year before receiving any national coverage. It's only been in the last month that news of Yocum's journey has become more prominent.
That's because a firefighter from New Jersey who had been following Yocum's journey on social media attended a New York Yankees game and had a casual conversation with Mitchell Modell of Modell's Sporting Goods. Modell immediately got on board, sending out emails asking for donations. In just three weeks Modell's campaign pushed Yocum's fund-raising total from $250,000 to nearly $500,000.
To learn more or to donate, visit drumhike.com or make a donation to Wish Upon a Hero Foundation, 1640 Nixon Drive, Suite 336, Moorestown, N.J. 08057. Write "Hike" in memo.