Navy veterans stretch their sea legs to raise money for KC charity

Navy veterans stretch their sea legs to raise money for KC charity

A group of veterans from a Northland senior living facility are walking a mile a day to raise money for a local charity helping families during the pandemic.

Ernie Martel saw something on the news about how Kansas City non-profit Della Lamb needed help to keep up with the community need.

The 85-year-old Martel learned Della Lamb was struggling to feed people during the pandemic, so he recruited some friends at Tiffany Springs Senior Living – 99-year-old Harold Gosseen and 78-year-old Don Varney – to pledge to walk one mile a day in exchange for community donations.

For this trio of former Navy men who call themselves the “Three Musketeers,” this is just the latest mission they are on for their community.

Navy veterans Don Varney, 78, Harold Gosseen, 99, and Ernie Martel, 85, have started walking a mile every day to help raise funds to give to Della Lamb to help Kansas City families struggling with the coronavirus pandemic.

“We just want to give back, we’ve been blessed all these years,” Martel told KCTV5 News.
The three tend to start their walk mid-morning, with Martel saying he can usually get through in 35 minutes, though Gossen noted it could take him “all day.” They said they have made a commitment to continue as long as COVID-19 remains a concern.

“If it’s over in December we will quit in December, if it’s over next year, good Lord willing, we will still here and walking next year,” Martel said.

Good news for Della Lamb executive director Ryan Hudnall. His organization is dealing with increased needs.

“We’re positioning ourselves to respond to food scarcity needs as well as emergency assistance needs because so many will continue to face the challenges of unemployment and reduced income as this continues to endure,” Hudnall explained.

In less than a week, the walk has raised more than $400, but the group is hoping for more money to help as many people as possible.

“No donation is too small, and none is too big,” Martel said. “For $2.25 they can feed one child one meal a day.”

When asked how much they want to raise, Martel jokingly said one million dollars. While some may get a chuckle out of that answer, these veterans are determined and full of vigor, so that or any other goal is not out of reach.