On March 3rd, 2018, Paul Gaumond will begin a long journey of 2,190 miles along the Appalachian Trail.
For those unfamiliar with the Appalachian Trail, it’s the longest hiking-only footpath in the world, ranging from Maine to Georgia. It covers 14 states, according to appalachiantrail.org.
Gaumond will be 59 when he sets off on his mission and conservatiely estimates that it will take him 5 months to complete the hike.
This isn’t a journey, however, that is just a test to his physical stamina, but one with a very heartfelt mission — he’s raising money for others who served, giving back to them after they gave to their country.
“I will be raising funds for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation to ensure the children of fallen soldiers from Special Operations have funding for their college education,” he explains. “100% of the donations will go to the foundation.”
Gaumond is hoping to raise $25,000, which will be used for college scholarships for the surviving children of fallen Special
Operations Service Members; family and educational counseling, including in-home tutoring; and an immediate $5,000.00 financial grants to severely combat wounded Special Operations Service Members.
He will also have some company along the way.
“I have been contacted by a few individuals who want to hike the Appalachian Trail with me for the cause of raising donations for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation,” he says. “These individuals are: Colonel Ken Coon is retiring this summer, Billy West (with his service dog) who is a disabled veteran and potentially disabled veteran Cyrus Curenton. Also I will leave the Appalachian Trail in April (5 days) to attend my daughters college graduation. My daughter will return with me and complete the Appalachian Trail with me.”
Gaumond, who hails from Asheville, North Carolina, says the biggest misconceptions and misunderstanding surrounding those who serve is that within “Special Operations everyone is a volunteer. Everyone is willing to do what is possible to protect others from harms way. They are well educated and exceptionally trained. The general public does not realize the time that is given up from their families and the sacrifice that everyone must give. This includes the wives and children who remain at home. It is extremely difficult for everyone involved.”
He’d like to see that perception changed to one which fosters more understanding about the price that is paid.
“I’d like people to understand the sacrifice that service members give,” he explains. “It’s for everyone at home to be able to live the lives they wish. The United States is an incredible country and offers everyone an opportunity to succeed. The military offers you an opportunity to stand up and make a difference.”
For Gaumond, Kindness & Hope means “a smile, a handshake, a hug, and make a difference in life everyday. Do something special for someone you don’t know.”
Fittingly, given his forthcoming mission, his motto in life is “De Oppresso Libre (free the oppressed). ”
“To make the world a better place for all of us to live,” he says.
The only negative aspect Gaumond perceives during those 5 months is an endearing one of being away from his wife for so long.
To help him give back, please give to him and help him by donating using this direct link: www.gofundme.com/Paul-gaumond
He adds: “I am hoping many folks would consider donating any amount possible for hiking the Appalachian Trail. Their generosity will be greatly appreciated. 100% of the donations will go to Special Operations Warrior fund.”