Hike for Heroes fundraiser included Gerry Cooney, Jim Leyritz, Al Harrington, Steve Schirripa and Robert Wuhl and New Jersey’s Celebrity Magnet Tom Murro
BY ALLISON RUPPINO
New Jersey’s Celebrity Magnet Tom Murro attended the Hike for Heroes cocktail fundraiser at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers in New York City on June 15th. The CEO of Modell’s Sporting Goods, Mitchell Modell, held the event for Iraq War Veteran Troy Yocum.
32-year-old Troy Yocum decided to embark on an incredible journey to help raise awareness and money for military families. The project, which is sponsored by the nonprofit Solder’s Angels, is assisting returning war veterans and their families with medical, housing, and personal problems. Therefore, Yocum, his wife, Mareike, and their two dogs have created a mission to walk 7,800 miles across America in hopes of raising $5 million for their cause. They began the hike on April 17th 2010 and plan to return home September 3, 2011. So far, they have clocked in at 6,400 miles, but have only raised $200,000.
After walking an exhausting 13 months, and being hospitalized twice, the Yocum family was doubtful that their end goal could be reached. That is when Modell stepped in to help the family. He rallied friends and raised an additional $260,000 in three months. During a press conference held on Wednesday, Modell announced he will be asking the customers of his store, along with customers of other big-name retailers, to donate $1 to help military families. This small donation could accumulate to $1 million for the cause.
Also on Wednesday, Yocum brought his Hike for Heroes trail through Fort Lee, N.J. before crossing the George Washington Bridge on his way to the Big Apple where Modell had set up his big welcoming party and cocktail fundraiser. The family could now relax for a bit, but know they were still raising money for the event, even if their feet weren’t in action. When Murro asked Yocum how he kept from withering away to nothing from all that walking, Yocum replied with “I've spend a lot of time in Dairy Queen along the way.”
Some of the celebrities that came out to assist with the charity were boxing legend Gerry Cooney, former New York Yankees star Jim Leyritz, St. Patrick graduate and NBA forward Al Harrington, “Sopranos” stars Vince Curatola and Steve Schirripa, along with Union, N.J. native comedian Robert Wuhl. Murro got a chance to meet all of them as they discussed the great strength it must take a man to complete a journey such as this one. Murro also had the pleasure of chatting with a few more New Jerseyans there that night, New Brunswick Mayor Francis 'Mac' Womack, who was there with his wife Carol and a few their friends, all there to show support the cause.
With 5,000 raised, the Yocum family continued their journey the next day. As the band The Proclaimers would say, “I would walk 500 miles,” well the Yocum family can say right back, “and I would walk 7,000 more.”