MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. -- Confucius once wrote, “A trip of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” but for a Fightertown Marine and his family a bicycle trip from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego begins with a single pedal and the memory of a loved one.
Cpl. Clayton Walding, the Marine Aircraft Group 31 assistant regional security officer, and his wife Laura, a former Fightertown Marine, are preparing to embark on “Kylie’s Mission,” a coast-to-coast 3,400 mile journey, to raise money for Markers for Munchkins, a nonprofit organization to help low-income families mourning lost children. They plan to depart the Lowcountry in late October and arrive in San Diego early December.
Kylie’s Mission will take the two riders approximately 55 days to complete. They will travel through nine states during the journey and will be staying in campsites and military installations from South Carolina to California.
“My wife and I are making this trip to raise money and awareness for my sister’s charity, Markers for Munchkins and to give back to the Marine Corps,” Clayton said. “The charity helps low-income families, who have lost children, pay for proper burials and provides them with grief counseling and support groups as well.”
The trip is a worthwhile cause and can raise awareness for people who do not know about the charity, explained Steven Powers, the MAG-31 regional security officer.
“Walding has the determination to accomplish his goal, he has always been a take charge Marine, if something needs to get done he always makes sure it does,” Powers said.
Some of the local companies contributing to the cause are Huntsman Chemical, Jonathan’s Bike Shop, Higher Ground and Fightertown’s own, Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224.
“The squadron wanted help him out by contributing because tragedy strikes everyone, Marines and civilians alike and it’s a good way to give to the less fortunate,” said Maj. John Pylant, the Bengals executive officer.
Clayton and Laura will raise the money in memory of his six-year-old niece Kylie who passed away in April 2005 from a rare chromosomal disease, and is the reason the foundation was created, according to Clayton.
“Nobody expects to lose a child,” said Laura. “Markers for Munchkins is about families coping with that loss and providing them with a gravestone, since many children are buried without one.”
This is also a good way to give back to the Corps and bring positive attention to what Marines can do, according to Clayton.
“It’s an enormous task and not only is a worthy cause, but it shows Marines’ compassion towards less fortunate people,” Pylant said.
For more information about the charity and how to donate, call 263-7114 or visit http://www.markersformunchkins.org.