KILLEEN — Cars zoomed past country music artist Granger Smith as he walked from Austin to Fort Hood to show support for troops during the “Boot Walk” for soldiers and their families.
Smith began his third annual five-day journey Sunday with about 150 people. Although he picked up many supporters along the way, only about seven people made the entire walk, reaching Fort Hood on Thursday afternoon.
The “Boot Walk” raises funds for the Boot Campaign, a national nonprofit dedicated to showing appreciation for active-duty military personnel, raising awareness of the challenges they face upon their return from deployments and helping them reintegrate into the civilian world.
Smith’s motivation during the 100-mile walk was reminding himself about the sacrifices soldiers make.
“It’s an important cause to me because I get to play music for a living and that’s a pretty easy job,” Smith said. “I love that I am able to chase my dream and follow the career I want. I’m allowed that freedom by the men and women who give up everything so I can have that.”
First Sgt. Christopher Bricker, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, walked the entire trip with two soldiers in his unit and made plenty of friends along the way.
“It was refreshing, invigorating, and it was fun,” Bricker said.
After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Bricker said support for soldiers was strong. As time passed, it declined.
“It’s great to know that there are still people who appreciate what the soldiers do and what we stand for.”
Raechel Mansfield joined during the last five miles of the walk from the Killeen Mall to Fort Hood.
“(Soldiers) are over there in the front lines while we get to sit back and have a good time and not have as much stress as them,” said Mansfield, who participated in the walk last year. “They do a lot for us.”