A man is using his time off from his Naval Base in California to make a difference here in South Dakota.
With the sun barely above the horizon, Matt Anderson gathers with his family at his grandfather's grave. Anderson is about to start a nearly 50 mile walk from Alcester to Sioux Falls; and with every step, carrying an 80 pound cross. The helicopter squadron instructor walks to create awareness and raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. But there is a personal reason: to remember his grandpa's service during World War II.
"Oh he may not be here in the physical sense, but I know grandpa's watching over me today. He would definitely be very proud of the efforts and encourage everybody to come out and support," Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class Matthew Anderson said.
The walk will last three days, ending at Peace Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls on New Year's Eve. Anderson battles bitter cold temperatures during the walk, but he considers it a worthy price to pay.
"The weather is going to be a challenge, but that's a very small sacrifice compared to the wounded veterans that we've got here in our country, so well worth the efforts," Anderson said.
"I told him I don't want to overshadow his effort, but I'm going to keep the pickup warm," father Dave Anderson said.
Dave Anderson is the proud father who will be there every step, following behind in his pickup. He says he's happy with his son's plans to help out those who've given so much.
"I was surprised but yet I was very humbled that he would be thinking of other sailors, soldiers, and airmen that have served and to pay them back," Dave said.
No matter the distance or the temperature, Anderson will continue to put one foot in front of the other, giving back to those who sacrifice for this country.
Anderson encourages anyone that wants to can walk next to him or sign the cross he is carrying on his shoulders.
If you are interested in donating to the Wounded Warrior Project click here.