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Kings Mountain event to honor and assist veterans

The walking track behind the Kings Mountain Family YMCA at 211 Cleveland Ave. will be the site of a special event 8am to 8pm June 22 honoring veterans and featuring a wide variety of booths and representatives offering assistance for them. One of the event's focuses will be on veteran suicide and ways it can be prevented.

Two groups, Mission 22 and Veterans Walk and Roll, are the event's primary organizers. The number "22" reflects the number of veterans who commit suicide every day. Kevin Evans, a U.S. Navy veteran, is the North Carolina Ambassador for Mission 22 which is a worldwide veterans advocacy organization whose motto is "when their tour is over, our mission begins".

Evans defined the event theme.

"Mission 22 wants to ensure that veterans know what resources are available to them and the event will focus on that," he said. "We want to make life easier for veterans and reduce that 22 a day rate."

Veterans Walk and Roll organizer Chris Pullen, also a Navy veteran, gave his thoughts on the upcoming happening.

"The whole idea of the event is to bring people, veteran's organizations, resources, and agencies together," he said.

According to Pullen, last year's event drew about 1,200 folks who walked or rolled in wheelchairs approximately 1,579 miles around the track.

"We had participants ranging in age from children to 91-years old," Pullen said.

This year, representatives from the Veterans Administration will be on site answering questions, offering resource information, and addressing concerns.

"We are excited about the VA being there," said Pullen.

The day will be family-oriented with several interesting displays including a 1971 Huey MedEvac helicopter that was used in Vietnam. The copter is from VFW Post 5466 in Taylorsville and will be brought to Kings Mountain on a 1962 Studebaker Packard truck that also saw Vietnam action.

In addition, the Gastonia-based United Veterans of America 150'x75' American flag will be flying overhead the walking track after its raised by an AME Inc. crane. A group of 9th and 10th grade senior level Girl Scouts from Troop 20309 (part of the Peaks to Piedmont district) will lead the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Kings Mtn. Optimist Pee Wee football team and cheerleaders will be represented. Local recording artist Bailey Marie Griggs will sing the National Anthem.

Camaraderie is an important part and will be in great abundance at the event.

"People share their stories with one another when they start walking," said Evans. "It's a way for veterans to connect with one another."

The event isn't about donations per se, but they will be accepted.

"Over 80 percent of any donations go to Mission 22," said Evans.

Speaking of which- on June 1 members of the American Legion Riders Post 155 held a ride to raise funds for Mission 22. The support ride rode from the American Legion Kings Mountain to the Bears Den to American Legion Rock Hill to 4 Lane in Clover to the United Veterans of America in Gastonia, then back to American
Legion in Kings Mtn.

Post 155's incoming commander Becky Flickinger took part in the ride.

"Post 155 is always glad to help Mission 22," she said.

Overall, Walk and Roll 2024 is going to be a great day for everyone who takes part.

"We'd like to invite everyone to come out on June 22nd to the King Mountain walking track as we raise awareness about the war against veteran suicide," Evans says. "Mission 22 will sponsor walks at 10:22 am and again at 2:22 pm. Come walk a little or a lot as you join us in our fight!"

For more information about Mission 22 and/or the Walk and Roll event, contact Evans

at Kce1966.ke@gmail.com. Also visit Mission22.com.

For further information on what's available to veterans, check out the following websites.

Cleveland County https://www.cleveland

Gaston County https://www.gastongov.com/789/Veterans-Services

State of N.C. https://www.milvets.nc.gov/

U.S. Veterans Administration https://www.va.gov/

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