CLINTON — Air Force veteran Jerry Meadows is not letting his dependence on an oxygen tank prevent him from walking from Minnesota to Florida in an effort to raise money for the Wounded Warriors.
Meadows, who served in the Air Force from 1975 to 1979, is in the midst of a walk to Jacksonville, Florida, to raise money for Wounded Warriors. Meadows began the walk in Minnesota. Meadows, after working in concrete for 35 years, had a triple bypass, which he said caused challenges in the workforce, especially concrete. Meadows said he was drawn to the Wounded Warriors because of their programs for families and caregivers, which he said other organizations do not provide.
“I started wondering what I can do to help,” Meadows said. “I can send them 20 bucks and that does help but what mark am I really making? It’s a little grandiose what I’m doing. And I get that. But it raises donations for them and certainly awareness.”
Meadows said he and his wife, Virginia, have endured mechanical issues with a vehicle and problems with health during the journey. Jerry Meadows, who now uses an oxygen tank, said one of his goals as he gets older is to leave a legacy.
“It’s my heartfelt belief we’re only disabled as much as we’re going to allow ourselves to be,” Meadows said. “It hurts. It’s tough to deal with. But just because you’re disabled you don’t have to die. You can fight it to the end. And I don’t know, I may have 25 more years, I don’t know. But I know this is probably going to be my best year.”
Meadows is hoping to complete the walk to Florida in either September or October of this year. Meadows said he does not set daily goals for the walk. He tried setting goals but would get disappointed if he was unable to reach the goal for that day.
“I quit looking for mile markers,” Meadows said. “I quit counting miles. Anything that would remind me of the distance. Now what I pretty much do is keep my focus on the horizon. You go pretty brain dead out there. So I quit looking at my feet and started looking at the horizon.”
Meadows has walked over 300 miles so far. Meadows said after his DeWitt stop, he and his wife are heading to Fort Wayne, Indiana. Virginia Meadows follows Jerry Meadows in the van during the walk.
Meadows said last year they raised over $11,800. He said after a change in the platform for donations, they have raised about $200 in cash donations.
Anyone wishing to donate can contact Meadows at (641) 328-3484.