A couple of days ago I got a message from a friend on Facebook telling me about a soldier who was walking across the United States. Yes, I said walking across the United States. Let that sink in for a second. Ok, now clear the image of Forrest Gump out of your head. I immediately looked up his Facebook page. After I absorbed the information from there, I headed over to his blog to get more. I learned about Matt Parrish, a medic for the Army, and his courageous trek across the country to raise money and awareness for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.
The Special Operations Warrior Foundation is a non-profit organization who provides assistance to children who have lost a parent while serving for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps Special Operations during an operational or training mission. This includes some 50,000 military special operations and support personnel in the United States and overseas.
After reading his blog, the foundation’s website, and the Facebook page, I knew that I needed to photograph this soldier while I could. I left a message on his page and we met up Tuesday afternoon when he made it to Ruston. We visited for a little bit to let the sun get right before heading off to take some photos. My friend Jonathan Ford came along to help and also recorded a short interview. Jonathan and Donald Page were gracious to offer him a place to stay for the night. It also opened another opportunity for Donald to take a few photos as well.
Matt is one of the nicest guys I have had the opportunity to meet. He left the comfort of air conditioning, a bed, and the smiling face of his son behind to do what he feels God is telling him to do. He is walking from Tampa, Florida to Los Angeles, California and back. The round trip is expected to take about a year to complete. He started with a full pack of essential gear on his back, an iPhone, a direction, and most importantly…his faith. He has been in the news and has found an amazing amount of support along the way. One of his supporters donated a jogging stroller to carry his gear and take the load off his back. He also has supporters at New Balance and Magnum Boots who provide him with much needed shoes. He showed me a pair of New Balance shoes that had about 750 miles on them. They were worn thin and without any tread.
I am honored to have met Matt and learned about his journey. Please take a moment to read about his mission and make a donation.