Charlestonian to walk for wounded veterans

Alastair McCandless

A 1993 graduate of Wando High School will walk across America beginning this weekend to raise money for wounded soldiers.

Charleston native Alastair McCandless plans to cross 12 states and climb 12,000 feet in elevation changes to support the nonprofit veteran aid organization Wounded Warrior Project.

The trip, dubbed the "Wilderness Walk for Wounded Warriors," will follow the American Discovery Trail's northern route from the mid-Atlantic Coast to the Pacific Ocean.

He will start Saturday at Cape Henlopen, Del., and hopes to finish at Point Reyes National Seashore in California. He plans to hike the trail in segments over two calendar years. This year's stopping point likely will be Omaha or Denver in October.

"It's about trying to meet people as much as possible and get the word out," said McCandless, 35.

He hopes to make 15 to 20 miles per day. "It's basically an opportunity to create awareness," he said.

McCandless chose the Wounded Warrior Project because a close friend, fellow Furman University alumnus and Pi Kappa Phi fraternity brother Ken Dwyer, had expressed interest in doing a similar charity hike.

Dwyer was severely wounded during his third tour of duty in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army's Special Forces in 2006. He was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, losing his left arm, left eye and many of his teeth.

McCandless has been preparing for the trip by walking an average of 12 miles a day, including toting a weighted pack. He will be carrying a 40-pound pack of supplies with him, including a tent, sleeping bag, clothes, two pairs of shoes, rain jacket and other essentials.

McCandless has set a fundraising goal of $10,000.