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Hiking For Heroes

Army veteran hiking across the United States

Michael Viti. Courtesy photo

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Even after serving in the Army, Michael Viti still felt the need to make a difference.
Viti's vision, Mike's Hiking For Heroes (MHFH), is now a Freedom Has A Face project dedicated to honoring the legacy of every servicemember who has been killed in action during the Global War on Terror by dedicating one kilometer of a hike to each.

"Things are going real well," said co-founder of MHFH, Mark Faldowski, a fellow Army veteran who is serving as the rear detachment while Viti's boots are on the ground.

The hike, which will span 232 days and cover 7,100 kilometers, began April 26 in DuPont and will finish up Dec. 13 in Baltimore, Maryland during the annual Army/Navy football game.

While the destination made sense, the original departure point was changed from Safeco Field to DuPont after the two men learned about wear blue: run to remember and participated in a Saturday morning run with the group.

"We want to work with like-minded nonprofits and wear blue is very close to our mission," he said. "Lisa Hallet, Curtis Brake, Rachel Elizalde-Powell and Krista Simpson with that group were all instrumental with both motivation and coordination."

In order to reach the distance goal on time, Viti and Faldowski calculated that Viti would have to be on the move six days a week and average 22 miles a day, but the driven veteran went six weeks straight without a rest day.

"He figures it's better to be ahead on the mileage and schedule just in case he gets ill, the weather turns or something happens," Faldowski stated, adding that the temperatures have already ranged from 118 degrees in Arizona during the day to just 38 degrees in the desert at night.

As of day 100, which fell on Aug. 3, Viti had hiked about 2,000 miles on this journey, falling anywhere on the spectrum from 18 miles to 36 miles on a given day. In fact, he even traveled out of his way down to the El Paso last weekend in order to run with the local wear blue chapter.

So far the team has also engaged with 3,000 people along the route, not including the nearly 6,000 followers who are tracking the movement through social media, and had more than 400 individuals physically join them for part of the hike.

"At day one hundred we'd walked for 2,960 heroes," he said. "We've also met with thirty-nine Gold Star families and completed five flags inscribed with the names of the fallen."

And, while the team has faced eight rain days, according to Faldowski, they've had zero bad days, despite the fact that a number of nights have been spent sleeping on the side of the road both due to hotel proximity and an effort to minimize overheard costs.

In addition to raising awareness for these brave men and women, MHFH is also working to raise money that can be used to erect permanent memorials in the hometowns of these fallen veterans.

"We have had a lot of self satisfaction doing this, but more importantly we think we have found a way to touch people," he stated. "Eventually we want to start a nonprofit that can have veterans or others do some extreme things - though maybe not another cross-country hike - in order to continue to raise funds."

To follow Viti's journey, check out and to donate to the cause, go to

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