BROWNSBURG — Zach Day is plowing through his 2,200-mile Hike for Hoosier Veterans along the Appalachian Trail.
While he’s away, local American Legion Riders traveled 180 miles of their own this past Saturday in support of the mission, although they were on motorcycles while Day is on foot.
The ride originated at American Legion Post 331 in Brownsburg, and then went to Nashville and back, raising money that will go to the Homeless Veterans Assistance Foundation (HVAF).
“I don’t have a total dollar amount yet, but we kicked butt, I know that,” said Mike Parr, one of the Legion Riders putting on the event. “We’re helping until he gets home with fundraising and I came up with the idea to have a ride. We had four weeks to put it all together.”
Parr said rider groups from Avon, Lebanon, Zionsville, and Speedway all participated. Eight homeless veterans also spoke during a short ceremony held in conjunction with the ride.
“I’m flabbergasted and I’m really impressed with the width and breath of people who are interested, ready, willing, and able to help in any way that they can,” said Dave Day, Zach’s father. “It’s unfortunate with the economy the way it is they can’t help in ways they might ordinarily, but the one thing I’ve tried to impress on people is ‘if you can, great. If you can’t, great.’ Maybe click on his Facebook page and support him and it won’t cost a nickel. I want to get them up over 1,000 before he returns.”
Parr said he’s been in touch with Day during his trek from Maine to Georgia.
“The thing that impresses me with Zach is his mindset,” Day said. “It’s so cool. I’m on the phone with him and he’s thanking me, and I’m trying to thank him. He’s a very modest guy.”
Day started his journey with a hope of raising $200,000. Parr said they had gotten much support from the community. He said 42 motorcycles were in Saturday’s ride and that they had also received donations from Bill Estes Ford, Indy West, Impact Racing, and Lucas Oil.
“One thing we don’t have is a corporate sponsorship, and that’s what we really need right now,” Parr said.
A new donation campaign called Penny a Mile is also being started, where those who choose to donate can give a penny for every mile he hikes, which comes out to $22, assuming he completes the trail. Donations may be made by check to Hike for Hoosier Vets, State Bank of Lizton, P.O. Box 708, Brownsburg.
Day has run into some inclement weather on his trek, but reports that he’s doing fine.
“He’s doing good, having the time of his life,” his father said. “The terrain is pretty rugged, not a cakewalk by any stretch. He’s fine, just has had inclimate weather.
“I think he’s a little bit ahead of schedule, but it can change at any time. As it turns out, I liken it to the interstate. You can pick up with a truck and go the same speed and stay in touch if you have CB radios whereas if you wanted to move ahead or get away from a certain crowd or a guy that’s driving you crazy, you can get away and drop back. He’s met a lot of people, heard different stories and what not, shared their personal experiences, and he didn’t know that would happen. He’s picked up with some people that he connects with so they travel together and at any time he gets tired of any group or clique or whatever, he can drop back if he wants or accelerate.”
Day is posting updates on his trip on his Facebook page at Hike For Vets and his website at hikeforhoosiervets.com.