DES MOINES, Iowa -- It’s over 3,000 miles from Naples, Florida to Seattle, Washington, and two Iowa veterans are making the cross country trek by foot.
The trip started back in late January for army veteran brothers, Jeffrey and Rick Harrison. On Saturday, they finally made their way back home to Des Moines. It's not even halfway through their trip across America, but both say there’s no stopping now, as they work to raise awareness for a great cause.
At first, it was simply a bet between a father and his son.
“I told him, ‘well, I can walk from there to Seattle in six and a half, seven months,’ and he said, ‘you can’t do it,’” Rick said.
Suffering with dementia, Rick’s veteran father passed away just a few months later, leaving Rick with no other choice.
“Dad told him he couldn’t do it and so he had to do it,” Rick’s brother Jeffrey said. “And me and my big mouth said I’d go with him, and I’ve been paying for it ever since.”
Starting in Naples, Florida on January 23, the army vet brothers haven’t stopped walking since.
“Right now we're averaging around 22 to 30 miles a day, depending on the weather and how many hills,” Rick said.
Pushing a wagon with everything they need along the way, they’ve been through a lot.
“We’ve walked through the middle of Tampa, right through Montgomery, Alabama, and that was quite an adventure,” Jeffrey said.
They have also lost some things along the way.
“A good pair of shoes will last you a couple months,” Jeffrey said.
“Well, we’ve both lost over 40 pounds on our walk,” Rick said.
The journey is worth it, though, honoring their dad. But there’s another D.A.D. they are walking for. It's an acronym that stands for dementia, Alzheimer's, and depression. They are raising money for veterans who they say too often struggle with these diseases.
“I think it’s important to get the word out there and find some answers,” Jeffrey said.
Clocking in 1,509 miles to the Iowa State Capitol building, the Harrison brothers have another 1,800 or so to go.
“It’s just me and my brother doing this together. Were doing the whole trek together from South Naples all the way to Seattle,” Rick said.
A lot of their family and friends met them Saturday in Des Moines to cheer them on. They hope to get to Seattle by end of July or the beginning of August.
The brothers are paying for their own food and hotels, which they stay at about once a week, so all the money raised will directly help their cause, donating to the Iowa Veterans Hospital.
They have raised $3,000 dollars so far. If you would like to donate, you can find a link on their Facebook Page called “Veterans Walk for DAD: Dementia Alzheimer's and Depression,” or you can write a check or money order to the Farmers State Bank Attn. Veterans Walk for Dad at 201 N Main St. Yale, IA 50277.