EDITOR'S NOTE: As reported in the paper on Wednesday, Mr. Ring had originally anticipated being in Metter TODAY. However, due to delays in his walk, his Facebook update now indicates that he should arrive in Metter on FRIDAY.
When someone is going through difficult times and feeling a lot of stress, many experts suggest that he or she “take a walk.”
John Ring of Richmond Hill, Georgia, understands that stress and then some, so he has embarked on Buddy Watch Walk – Pier to Pier to support veterans who are experiencing issues such as Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), homelessness, legal issues and unemployment as a result of their having served in the United States Military.
John left the pier on Tybee Island, Georgia, at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 1, headed on a 2,462 mile walk that will end on the pier in Santa Monica, California – literally pier to pier. His plans are to walk 30 to 40 miles each day, stopping in cities and towns along the way to promote veteran’s issues and to raise funds for Buddy Watch.
Buddy Watch Inc. is a nonprofit organization located in Midway, Georgia. It was founded in 2017 by Jo Coleman-Williams, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has worked in the social services and mental health fields for more than 20 years.
Her work has focused mainly on Active Duty Soldiers, Veterans, and their family members. According to John, Buddy Watch, Inc. has purchased property and the organization has plans to build tiny homes as well as treatment facilities for veterans. John’s walk will raise funds to continue work on a health clinic as well as to begin to build the homes that will house veterans who do not have a place to call home.
“Go big or go home” is John’s motto. He admits that walking across the United States is a big task. He has talked to others who have completed similar walks for various causes. As a veteran himself and a current member of the Georgia National Guard, John is passionate about veterans’ issues. “Veterans’ issues are real issues,” he states.
Metter stop planned
on Oct. 3
John expects that on the first day of his walk, he will make it as far as Bloomingdale. At his planned pace, he should arrive in Metter on Thursday, Oct. 3. While in Metter, John hopes to meet with veterans, perhaps at the local VFW.
“I would like to meet with veterans and people who support veteran issues,” he says. Among the places he wants to visit in Metter are City Hall, the Emergency Medical Services and the Fire Department. He explains, “Many people who work for the EMS and Fire Departments around the country are also veterans. Even if they are not military vets, some of them are PTSD sufferers.”
As John walks along his route, he will be using secondary roads. He will enter Metter on Highway 46 and will likely be spending the night somewhere in Candler County.
“As I walk, I have friends who will be assisting with finding contacts and transportation. When I stop walking, I will mark my stop with a flag.” John’s local transportation will take him back to that specific spot for him to resume his walk.
Getting ready to walk
Preparation for the walk has been necessary. John is currently 40 years old, but he spent his Army career in the infantry.
“I have a good internal tolerance,” he reports. He has been conditioning for several weeks, walking every day. The longest distance he had walked in the weeks prior to stepping out at the Tybee Pier is 22 miles in one day. “I will be traveling light,” says John.
As far as when accommodations are not available along his route, John has a one man tent in which to sleep “in the dirt.”
In planning his route and preparing for Buddy Watch Walk, John is remaining flexible. “I plan to start walking early each day. I’ll probably walk from 7 a.m. until noon and then take a break while talking to vets and others in the communities I’m visiting during the middle of the day from noon until about three or four in the afternoon.”
He plans to resume walking in the afternoon and walk until dark. Because of his desire to remain flexible, John cannot be sure of exactly how long the entire walk will take and where he will be from day to day. If all goes as he hopes, John’s walk will take 80 days.
Before beginning Buddy Watch Walk – Pier to Pier, John walked into a tattoo shop in his area and got a tattoo to commemorate the start of his journey. As he walks through the states, he plans to get a tattoo in each state.
“Tattoos are big with many veterans, so I want to do this to document my trip,” says John. By the end of the trip, he will have tattoos from Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, a virtual roadmap of his journey.
In order for people to keep up with his progress, John has a website that has been set up for Buddy Watch Walk – Pier to Pier. The address is www.wheresjohnring.com. Complete with a map, photos and list of sponsors, the website will be updated at least twice daily. There is also a Facebook page that will chronicle John’s journey. The page is entitled “Buddy Watch Walk – Pier to Pier.” Additionally, John has set up a Go Fund Me Account to raise money for Buddy Watch, Inc.
Because of the flexibility of John’s plans, those who want to meet him or cheer him on in Candler County can check his status online. He also invites anyone who would like to walk along with him to join him veteran or not.
“All it takes,” according to John, “is someone who wants to do what’s right for America’s heroes.” That will make everyone involved with Buddy Watch Walk – Pier to Pier feel better.