Marine vet walked across America to raise awareness for disabled veterans

Local News

BELLEVUE, Wis. (WFRV) Richard Hunsucker spends his days in his garage, tirelessly working on sanding and painting walking sticks to donate to people and other organizations.

The sawdust and brushes fill up the space, along with the beautiful designs on the sticks that Richard comes up with on his own.

“I love the smiles on people’s faces when I give them a stick,” Richard said. “[I have] 179 of them in 32 states.”

The designs are inspired by his service with the Marines when he joined in 1974.

“When I was five I saw my first Marine in uniform and told my mom, when I was five-years-old I was going to be a Marine,” he explained.

Richard worked in communications as a wireman.

“We set up communication systems in battlefields and on bases, stuff like that,” he said. “My best friends were Vietnam vets and World War Two vets. I looked up to them. They taught me a lot about my country and they made me proud to be an American citizen.”

Richard was so proud, that he decided to take his pride for veterans to the streets in 2009. He told his wife he would walk across America for disabled veterans.

“She said, ‘what?!’ I said, ‘I’m going to walk from Florida to California from Veterans Day to Memorial Day.’ She said, ‘well, if that’s what you want to do, then go for it.'”

Veterans Day 2009, Richard left from Jacksonville for San Diego, carrying a Disabled American Veterans flag along the way. All to raise awareness for the vets.

“I was going in the service and they were getting spit on coming out,” he said. “It was sad, that’s why I wanted to do it. I wanted to represent the vets.”

Richard would average 16 miles a day with random people providing him food, shelter and support throughout his 202 day journey.

“I never considered nobody a stranger, because God introduced me to them,” he said.

He also met someone who gave him a walking stick for support. Fast forward 10 years, Richard was inspired by the act of kindness and now creates and donates walking sticks to others.

“I could be doing a lot of other things, but it makes my day making these for people,” he said.

With no prior art skills – he donates the decorated sticks to individuals, veteran’s homes and local businesses. He’ll also make you one free of charge, but there’s a catch.

“I’ll make anybody a stick. Whatever they want, as long as they make a donation to the Disabled American Veterans of some kind,” he said.

Richard wants others to know the potential they have to make a difference if they believe in themselves.

“A lot of people tell you that one person can’t accomplish much,” he said. “One person can achieve a lot if they put their mind, heart and soul to it.”

If you would like Richard to make you a walking stick, give him a call at (920) 455-0436. You can make a donation to the DAV by clicking here.

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