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Veteran hikes Appalachian Trail to raise money for children of fallen service members

Paul Gaumond, a retired and disabled veteran, plans to hike the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail to raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.
Paul Gaumond, a retired and disabled veteran, plans to hike the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail to raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Courtesy of Paul Gaumond

Paul Gaumond is a retired, disabled veteran. But he’s not done serving his country.

Gaumond, 58, of Asheville, is a retired Army sergeant major of the 10th Special Forces Group headquartered at Fort Carson in Colorado who served from 1977 to 1998. He will hike the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail to raise money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

Gaumond plans to hike with his daughter Kirsten beginning March 1, 2018. He’ll be using the hike to raise money for SOWF, which funds college scholarships for children of fallen service members, family and educational counseling and grants to severely combat-wounded Special Operations service members.

“After serving in Special Forces for over 21 years and making a difference in many people’s lives, I wanted/needed to continue to make a difference, especially for those serving our country,” he said.

Because of his service, Gaumond said he has experience hiking and he and his wife – who is supportive of his efforts – hike often. Kirsten attends Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., and Gaumond said the plan is for him to hike the first 500-600 miles on his own, then leave to attend Kirsten’s graduation before they start up on the last 1,590 to 1,690 miles together.

Because Special Operations forces are being deployed on missions worldwide, many of those service members are wounded or killed. The nature of their missions often mean that their deaths go unreported.

“Unfortunately, there are many families and children of fallen service members that will need assistance in the future,” Gaumond said. “To me, raising money for these families and these children is the least I can do at this point in my life. Hopefully, others will see the need to give donations and make a difference.”

And by hiking the trail, Gaumond hopes his efforts will be rewarded with donations to his GoFundMe account to help those children so “the future of these children will no longer be in question.”

A GoFundMe with a goal of raising $25,000 has been set up to collect donations. Gaumond plans to document his hike on his GoFundMe page and on the Special Operations Warrior Foundation site.

To learn more or to donate, go to www.gofundme.com/paul-gaumond.

Abbie Bennett: 919-836-5768; @AbbieRBennett

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