Army veteran Kevin Wilson and his Black Labrador Retriever service dog Calvin are on the hike of all hikes, and that trek brought them to Yardley Borough on Sunday, Oct. 23.
As part of their 1,300-mile walk of the September 11 National Memorial Trail that started Aug. 24, the two close companions were greeted by borough council member David Appelbaum, some local veterans and other residents at the Yardley Inn. While there, the group enjoyed brunch, courtesy of the inn.
Wilson, who lives in Arizona and has a visual impairment caused by problems with the flow of blood to his brain, is making the walk on behalf of a group called Warrior Expeditions, which sponsors similar excursions at different locations for combat veterans across the country.
He and Calvin started at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., made their way to Shanksville in western Pennsylvania, then to New York City and are now enroute back to the Pentagon, where they are scheduled to complete the walk sometime between Nov. 11 and 15.
On the way back down to Arlington, the pair is also making stops in Doylestown, Montgomery County, Philadelphia and other places. As he walks along with Calvin, Wilson pushes a small cart somewhat resembling a baby carriage that holds his tent, food and water and other supplies. It also serves as a ride for Calvin in case the dog is injured.
“Calvin has only taken a couple of miles off when he cut his foot on some glass,” Wilson explained. “We got some help from a veterinarian near where we were, got the all clear and he started right in walking again.”
Wilson and his wife, Sarah, are expecting their second child in early December.
“I did a walk along the Mississippi River back in 2016 when my wife was pregnant with our son,” Wilson said. “She told me the same thing then that she told me before this trip, ‘Do this now because you’re not doing it after our baby is born.’”
Wilson, who has lost 20 pounds on the hike, said it has been taxing but also invigorating and rewarding. Along the way, he is raising money for Warrior Expeditions for other veteran walks.
Appelbaum said that when he heard Wilson was passing through Yardley from Sept. 11 Memorial Trail board member Cindy Kunnas, he, borough Mayor Chris Harding, Police Chief Joseph D. Kelly III and others arranged to make the stop a pleasant experience.
“Yardley has a longstanding reputation of supporting veterans,” Appelbaum said. “Without their service, we don’t have the freedoms that we cherish in America today.”
Elliot Neri of Washington Crossing, part of the group that greeted Wilson and Calvin at the Yardley Inn, said he and his fellow veterans always stand ready to help one of their own and raise awareness to the many medical and other challenges confronting veterans.
“Veterans are having a hard time right now because there are so many things going on,” Neri said. “There are 22 veterans a day committing suicide. We have to stop that.”