SCRIBNER, Neb. – For a split-second last Tuesday, Ken Brock thought his 2,650-mile journey to bring awareness to Wounded Warrior Project was about to end abruptly.And badly.The cart carrying …
SCRIBNER, Neb. – For a split-second last Tuesday, Ken Brock thought his 2,650-mile journey to bring awareness to Wounded Warrior Project was about to end abruptly.
The cart carrying his service dog, Pam, was struck by a sliding 18-wheel tractor trailer hauling cattle as he approached town.
“Pam’s fine,” Brock said. “It knocked her out of the cart. When we got hit, I looked in the cart for Pam and she wasn’t there. All of a sudden she was standing beside me, wagging her tail. It threw her out, but she didn’t have any marks or bumps. She was just full of mud.”
Brock left Amvets Post 86 on Feb. 1 on a five-month walk to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, to show other veterans WWP has programs to help them regain control of their lives. In Brock’s case, the walk empowered him to push back the emotional scars that come with post-traumatic stress disorder.
He plans to arrive by July 4.
His mission has been both honorable and dangerous. Onlookers, many who’ve seen television interviews or read about his undertaking, honk with approval. Others stop for pictures or to shake hands.
Such an encounter is what triggered Tuesday’s accident.
“A man stopped on the opposite side of the road, and he walked across to meet me and give me a donation,” Brock said. A white SUV went to pass an 18-wheeler, a cattle truck. When he saw us on the side of the road, the SUV swerved in front of the truck and slammed on his brakes. The trucks also slammed on his brakes and skidding off the road. We were split between the 18-wheeler and the car.”
The police and fire departments helped load Brock’s cart onto a truck, and they drove him back to town. Firemen worked through the night trying to put the cart back together.
“We got it rolling, but barely,” Brock said. “Everyone pitched in. Both wheels have to be replaced.”
By Wednesday morning, Brock already was back on the road. His next stop was West Point, a little town 13 miles up the road.
With 1,362 miles down, Brock already has passed the halfway point on his march. There’s still 1,288 miles ahead – much of it with long, flat stretches of desolation.
For the next six weeks, Brock has traded in the challenges of rolling hills for the very real possibility of being stuck in the middle of nowhere.
“You have to make sure when you leave you can make it to the next stop,” he said. “Sometimes you have to make the walk shorter; sometimes you have to make it longer. You don’t want to have to spend the night on the shoulder of a deserted highway.”
Especially with so many distracted drivers.
“There have been so many people over the white line and they go back into their lane at the last minute,” he said. “I keep as far left as possible, in the emergency lane. A lot of them are on their cell phones. They just aren’t paying attention.”
But Ken Brock keeps pushing ahead.
Wobbly wheels and all.