With a planned route of more than 2,000 miles in front of him, U.S. Army veteran Chance Huffman will start his trek on foot to Portland, Oregon, on Wednesday morning, hoping to raise money for his fellow veterans along the way.
“It is super difficult for veterans (coming home), especially if you have been in an active role,” Huffman said. “You can almost become an adrenaline junkie, and . . . I hope I can raise money to help other veterans, my brothers and sisters.”
Huffman, 31, a former Army specialist and a Lorena High School graduate, returned from combat and transitioned into a volunteer role with Iraqi Kurdistan’s Peshmerga military force and returned home about four weeks ago. While deployed and on his volunteer assignment, he promoted his efforts on Instagram and gained supporters.
“Before I came back from Iraq, I started thinking of ways that I could help out veterans,” Huffman said. “One of my battle buddies lived here in Waco and he just moved back to his original home in Portland, so I did the drive with him and I kept thinking this would be the perfect route.”
He divided his perfect route into a 40-to-50-day backpacking hike through New Mexico, Utah and Nevada to meet up with his combat friend in Portland, Huffman said.
Early Wednesday morning, Huffman will start his hike from downtown Waco at Indian Spring Park and trek more than 2,000 miles to Portland. He said he hopes his mission will raise awareness and funds for veterans’ needs and support charities that benefit all veterans.
“I hope this will inspire people to donate, get involved with the veteran community or inspire them to get involved in something they are passionate about,” Huffman said. “I really just want people to care as much for veterans as I do.”
Huffman said online research plotted a 27-day travel itinerary, but he plans on taking breaks for meals and sleep.
During the weekend, Huffman launched GoFundMe and PayPal accounts to collect donations and said the response has been inspiring.
“Since I started the fund-raising efforts, I have gotten more than $1,000,” he said. “People have even written me messages, offering me places to stay or a shower and even offering to walk with me for part of the way.”
To follow Huffman’s trek to Oregon, visit his Instagram account at www.instagram.com/soter.legion.
To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/cross-country-walk-for-vets ?ssid=805605311&pos=1.