AZ grandpa plans to walk 75 miles to thank Red Cross - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

AZ grandpa plans to walk 75 miles to thank Red Cross

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Al Slusser, 75, said will walk 75 miles through the Verde Valley to raise money for the organization. (Source: CBS 5 News) Al Slusser, 75, said will walk 75 miles through the Verde Valley to raise money for the organization. (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A Cottonwood grandfather plans to pay back the American Red Cross for the help it provided after fire destroyed his family's mobile home in northern Arizona.

Al Slusser, 75, said will walk 75 miles through the Verde Valley to raise money for the organization.  

It's been nearly 40 years since that tragedy but the retired Camp Verde United Christian School principal said he remains grateful to this day for the assistance given by first responders and Red Cross volunteers.

"My wife and I escaped with our two young children. But we lost everything in the fire," Slusser said.

The Red Cross Verde Valley Benefit Walk will be the Cottonwood resident's fourth long-distance trek. He began walking expeditions at age 70 in 2009.

By 2012, he had covered more than 5,000 miles walking the width and length of the U.S. as well as the width and length of Arizona.

Slusser will begin his walk on May 5 at the Jerome Fire Station and end May 11 at the Verde Valley Fire District Station 31 in Cottonwood.  

He said he will move at a relaxed pace, stopping in communities along his route to encourage individuals and groups to make tax-deductible donations to the American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter's disaster relief fund. 

The walk will take the U.S. Navy veteran through Clarkdale, Cottonwood, Cornville, Page Springs, Sedona, Village of Oak Creek, McQuireville, Rimrock, Lake Montezuma and Camp Verde.

He encourages people to join him inside the city limits but says the rural roads will be too narrow for escorts. 

A Red Cross emergency response vehicle will accompany Slusser during portions of his trip. 

To prepare for the upcoming journey, Slusser said he walks about 5 to 7 miles each morning after sunrise. His knees bother him so he takes pain relievers before his stints. Slusser also battles chronic bronchitis but he said walking helps him breathe better.

"It's challenging at my age to keep a positive mental attitude about walking alone knowing the risks I will face on the roads, especially when it would be so easy to just retire,'' Slusser said.

Tax-deductible donations in honor of the Red Cross Verde Valley Benefit Walk can be made out to the American Red Cross Grand Canyon Chapter and mailed to 6135 N. Black Canyon Highway, Phoenix, AZ, 85015. 

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