PORTLAND (NEWS CENTER Maine) — After covering more than 170 miles over three states, Marine Blake Toth is resting at his home in Westbrook after a weekend walking from Montpelier, Vermont to Portland, Maine.
Toth walked the entirety of Route 302, and broke the journey up into three days. He said his stay in a tent at night was cold and at some points frightening.
"The first night... that was my longest day, and I went really far into the night," said Toth. "Probably overall the second day I was really hurting and by today, the third day, I was used to it. I feel like I can keep going.”
Toth is raising funds and awareness for Honor Flight New England. The organization sends veterans 'senior heroes' to Washington D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials at no cost to them. Honor Flight is sending five flights this year. As of Monday afternoon, Toth was over halfway towards his fundraising goal of $5,000
“It gives them one last opportunity for us to say thanks," said Toth. "That’s really what it’s all about for us, to thank them because they gave us so much. I probably wouldn’t be standing here today if it weren’t for the things that they did.”
The executive director for Honor Flight New England made the trip from New Hampshire to see Toth at his final destination. Joe Byron even surprised Toth with a seat on the next Honor Flight on October 21st to see first hand where the funds he raised are going.
“For him to do this for us is just incredibly moving and inspiring for us," said Byron. "To kind of give back to him with a trip to be with us, so he can say thank you to the heroes he is supporting."
Others have been following his posts and status on social media. Andrew Woody and his son came from Westbrook. They drove by him on Route 302 to yell words of encouragement during his final mile.
A post shared by Blake (@blaketoth) on
“He’s been carrying a backpack, carrying the U.S. flag the entire time," said Woody. “Blake’s the kind of guy that helps other people… I figured it’s time to give back to Blake.”
Toth said similar stories happened during his walk. He heard honks and people stopped him along his way to talk about family members, current and past, who served.
"They are the ones that made it possible, because when I was fighting the demons, that’s what really pulled me through," said Toth. "[They] stopped and pulled me over and told me about their husband who had served, or their family members who are currently serving, and really that’s just all the motivation that it takes.”
Toth served in the Marines for five years and says he is looking forward to relaxing and watching Monday Night Football. A GoFundMe page is available to donate to his mission.