By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Grafton – For the third year, the Grafton American Legion Delisle-Goulet Post 92 will host a 5.2-mile walk and barbecue to benefit a veterans’ cause – with some changes this time. In addition to a different benefiting charity, it will be held in memory of Charlie Hurley, who unexpectedly passed away May 24 at age 68. Hurley served as the junior vice commander of the Sons of the American Legion in Grafton and coordinated the post’s activities. He also co-chaired the first two walks with Jenn Plante, the post bar manager.
“We wanted to remember Charlie,” Plante said. “We know that he’s smiling down on us and glad we kept this walk going.”
Proceeds from the previous walks went to the Wounded Warrior Project. In 2013, more than 100 walkers participated and raised over $5,000. Last year’s walk was held on a humid 95-degree day, which likely caused the lower turnout and raised about $3,000.
Other veterans’ charities were researched for this year’s fundraiser, Plante noted.
“We decided to keep it more local,” she said. “We heard about the Fisher House. One of their representatives came and spoke with us. Now we’re on board with donating to them. Only 3 percent of our walk proceeds will go to their administrative fees. A lot of our Grafton veterans go to their West Roxbury location, so they’re familiar with the Fisher House.”
The Fisher House that will benefit from the walk is located at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in West Roxbury. It’s one of 65 Fisher Houses nationwide and the United Kingdom.
According to its website, “The Fisher House is a home away from home, where our military families can stay while a loved one is receiving in-house treatment. Any family member or loved one of an active military or veteran’s family, wartime or peacetime, is eligible to stay at the Fisher House. There is no charge for any family to stay at a Fisher House.”
Past walks attracted varied participants including Boy Scouts of Troop 106.
“Boy Scouts have done the walk each year and they plan on doing it again this year,” Plante said. “We get quite a plethora of all ages, families with baby carriages – you name it. We get a large amount of veterans, soldiers back from Iraq, people with service dogs. We’ve had military guys walk in uniform with their full-loaded backpacks. It’s quite an array.”
A barbecue will follow at the post’s pavilion with music provided by deejay Woody. Raffles will be offered with items including theme baskets and gift certificates. It’s also an opportunity for participants to socialize.
Among last year’s walkers was Adam Costello, director of Central Massachusetts Veterans’ Services District. He’s looking forward to participating again this year.
“I went there last year on my own and jumped in with the crowd,” he said. “Everybody was very friendly and shared their stories. And all the feedback I’ve heard about the Fisher House has been extremely positive. Anything we can do to keep the donations local to a proven organization is best for the town residents.”
The walk is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26, at 11 a.m., beginning and ending at the Grafton American Legion, 60 Worcester St. The route is the same as the long-running Grafton Gazebo Road Race. A $20 registration fee includes the barbecue. First 125 registrants get a T-shirt. Same-day registration begins at 9:30 a.m. Advance registration is encouraged at the post. Sponsorship opportunities are available with names on signage along the walk route.
For information about the walk and sponsorship, call Jenn Plante at the post at 508-839-4169. Learn more about the Fisher House at www.fisherhouseboston.org.