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What started as a 1,000 mile journey takes local veteran much farther

By ANNA MEILER

DEANSBORO, N.Y. (WKTV) -- Every step that Bob VanDenbergh takes has a purpose.

This Vietnam Era Veteran didn't see the front lines himself, but "I knew dozens and dozens and dozens of people who did. About half of them did not come home. Many of those that did come home were different. They were changed dramatically. Whether it's what they saw, what they heard, what they did, what they were exposed to. Something in their experience there changed them dramatically," said VanDenbergh.

VanDenbergh always wanted to help veterans, but didn't know how. But, starting last Memorial Day, he started a log, setting out to run 1,000 miles in time for Memorial Day this year.

"At the same time I would encourage people to pledge a penny, two pennies, whatever they could afford per mile and I was hoping we would have enough pledges to add up to a dollar and I'd run 1,000 miles and have $1,000 to hand to the wounded warriors," he said.

But he reached his goal faster than expected, finishing 1,000 miles on Veteran's Day. So now he's running until he reaches 1,776. Just as the miles have increased, the support has grown more and more. The community is standing strong behind him, helping raise $9,760 so far.

"They're proud of their veterans and they are very willing to give from their limited resources to a good cause," said Vandenbergh, emotional from the outpouring of support.

VanDenbergh's journey has taken him through the rain, the snow, and subzero temperatures. Knowing the rough conditions deployed soldiers face, he refused to step foot on a treadmill. Sometimes, the conditions were so bad, he wanted to give up.

"But then all I have to do is think about who I'm doing it for. They didn't give up," he said.

VanDenbergh will run his last 13 miles on Memorial Day, starting at home and running to the parades in Waterville, Deansboro and Oriskany Falls. He hopes to reach his fundraising goal of $10,000 and every penny of it will go to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Donations can be sent to Bob VanDenbergh at 2047 State Route 315 Deansboro, NY 13328.

To contact Bob, e-mail him at bobvan67@gmail.com

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