In the News:
Arizona Republic - Arizona Man to Walk 75 Miles to Benefit Red Cross
CBS 5 - Arizona Grandpa Plans to Walk 75 Miles to Thank Red Cross
KTAR - Arizona Man to Walk for Red Cross
Quad Cities Business News - Grandpa Raising Money for Red Cross
Camp Verde Bugle - Slusser, 75, to walk across Verde Valley for Red Cross
KFYI Radio - Ironman Great Grandpa to Walk 75 Miles for Red Cross
Ironman great-grandpa Al Slusser will walk 75 miles through the Verde Valley to raise money for the American Red Cross. Slusser, 75, wants to give back to the Red Cross for helping his family after their Flagstaff mobile home was destroyed in a fire in the middle of the night.
“My wife and I escaped with our two young children but we lost everything in the fire. With no place to go, the American Red Cross sent us to a local motel until our insurance took over,’’ Slusser said.
It’s been nearly 40 years since that tragedy but the retired Camp Verde United Christian School principal remembers how grateful he was when first responders and Red Cross volunteers helped his family.
The Red Cross Benefit Walk/Verde Valley will be the Cottonwood resident’s fourth long-distance trek. He began walking expeditions at age 70 in 2009. By 2012, he had covered more than 5,000 miles walking the width and length of the United States as well as the width and length of Arizona. Previous walks were dedicated to senior citizens, disabled Americans, U.S. troops and veterans and Arizona food banks.
Slusser’s journey will begin May 5 at the Jerome Fire Station and end May 11 at the Verde Valley Fire District Station 31 in Cottonwood.
Unlike previous walks, Slusser won’t try to cover as much territory as possible each day. He will move at a relaxed pace, stopping in communities along his route to encourage individuals and groups to make tax-deductible donations to the American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter’s disaster relief fund.
The walk will take the U.S. Navy veteran through Clarkdale, Cottonwood, Cornville, Page Springs, Sedona, Village of Oak Creek, McQuireville, Rimrock, Lake Montezuma and Camp Verde. He encourages people to join him on his walk inside city limits but says the rural roads will be too narrow for escorts.
He has been gathering support from police and fire officials to provide food and lodging on his trip. Slusser plans to pull the same two-wheel cart that he took on his other walks which advertises his walking purpose and to store food and supplies used along the way. A Red Cross emergency response vehicle will accompany Slusser during portions of his trip.
To prepare for the Red Cross Benefit Walk, Slusser walks about five to seven miles each morning after sunrise. His knees bother him so he takes pain relievers before his stints. He also will get a cortisone injection in his left knee before the 75-mile walk. Slusser has chronic bronchitis but he said walking helps him breathe better.
“It's challenging at my age to keep a positive mental attitude about walking alone knowing the risks I will face on the roads, especially when it would be so easy to just retire,’’ Slusser said. “But fulfilling my dream and doing something that others wouldn't do is the challenge that keeps me going.’’
Tax-deductible donations in honor of the Red Cross Benefit Walk/Verde Valley may be made through this website or to the American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter and mailed to 6135 N. Black Canyon Highway, Phoenix, AZ 85015.
For more information about the Red Cross, go to redcross.org/gcc.