Seldom does walking leave an impact beyond a footprint in the dirt.
In June 2013, Adam Shatarsky and Chris Senopole decided to walk across America to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project. Knoxville was one stop on the tandem's 2,700 mile journey from Camp Pendleton in California to Washington, D.C.
Seven pairs of shoes and more than $50,000 later, the two veteran Marines were welcomed on Monday by UT's Air Force ROTC detachment at the East Tennessee Veterans Memorial with a $500 check from the detachment and Bailey International LLC.
"We started this idea about four and half years ago in a booth at an Outback Steakhouse," Shatarsky said. "I really can't honestly tell you which one of us came up with the idea, but once it was on the table, it just stuck."
Community support has been vital to the success of the fundraiser, aptly titled "The Wounded Walk."
"I remember we got our first donation that day," Shatarsky said. "It was ten dollars ... and I called him (Senopole) and said 'ok, one person believes in what we are doing so now we have to go.'"
Maj. Michael Edwards of the 800 detachment of UT's AFROTC and assistant professor of aerospace studies, emphasized how supportive communities have been toward Shatarsky and Senopole.
"They do not have any support vehicles or anything," Edwards said. "Just the two of them with the U.S. Flag and Marine Flag, walking across the country. As they go from town to town, people have been very supportive and working things about for them."
Shatarsky encouraged others in the community to be persistent in efforts to affect change.
"We're just stubborn," he said. "And we won't take not for an answer ... that's what I say to all of you. If you have something you believe in, just go after it ... you can affect change. ... Just take that step and you can do it. There's nothing spectacular about us. We aren't the fastest, strongest or the smartest. We just don't take no for an answer."
Senopole agreed, emphasizing to the more than 50 veterans, AFROTC cadets and community members the positive effect of community support.
"This is what makes a change; this is what makes a difference," he said. "Just one step at a time ... coming out and showing your support means a lot."
Shatarsky described their experience so far as "humbling."
"When we started out no one knew what the heck we were doing," Shatarsky said. "We were just walking the freeways with an American flag and a Marine Corps flag just flapping in the wind. And now all the sudden we get to come to these towns and meet all you incredible people and it's so humbling that you guys support us."
In Edwards' opinion, what Shatarsky and Senopole are attempting is an amazingly selfless act.
"It's been a great way for them to bring awareness to the Wounded Warrior Project," Edwards said. "I do not believe they expected to get this much publicity, but it's been wonderful and it's truly amazing seeing all of the support they have received across the nation. As a military member, it makes me feel good to see this support and interest for their walk."
Shatarsky and Senopole intend to reach their final destination in early October.