Columbia County residents can show their support for the nation's troops while celebrating the spirit of Halloween in the Walk to Baghdad and Back event Saturday.
Family members and friends of the 35th Signal Brigade at Fort Gordon kicked off the first walk at Barton Field in September.
A second walk will be held starting at 10 a.m. at the Memorial Gardens behind the Columbia County Library on Saturday. Those participating in the walk are encouraged to wear costumes.
"Hopefully, the kids will get out and enjoy it," said event organizer Kim McKee, of Grovetown.
The family readiness group for the 35th Signal Brigade hopes to accumulate a total of 13,236 miles, which marks the distance from Fort Gordon to Baghdad and back.
The walks were organized in other areas of the country when the war in Iraq started in 2003, said Dona Ramos, another event organizer.
"Spouses got together and decided it was a good way to get to know each other, get into shape and support the soldiers while they're in harm's way," said Ramos, of Fort Gordon.
Both McKee and Ramos' husbands were deployed to Iraq in August with about 500 others soldiers with the 35th Signal Brigade.
Walks will be held in Columbia, Richmond and Aiken counties until the brigade returns to Fort Gordon in August.
About 200 participants from the community have registered within the past month, said McKee, adding that they've already accumulated about 700 miles.
It's not just walking during events that contributes to the total mileage, Ramos and McKee said. Participants in the program also can bike, swim, run and do other forms of activity. Any 15-minute block of activity will count as a mile.
"We have people who are going out and playing golf, and they're clocking their miles playing golf," McKee said.
The next Walk to Baghdad and Back event in the county is scheduled for Dec. 16 at the Lights of the South display near Grovetown.
Ten bonus miles will be added for those who dress in costumes during the Saturday walk at the Memorial Gardens.
Within a span of 10 years, Ramos said, the average military family moves three times. She said she hopes these walks build a sense of camaraderie among military spouses.
"Because they're not from the area, they'll stay in the house, and they won't do anything," she said. "This is our way of getting them out into the community to see what's out there."
Anyone wanting to show their military support is invited to participate in the program.
Participants can register for the program and track their miles online at www.americaonthemove.org.
For information, send an e-mail to 35thwalks2Baghdadandback@gmail.com or call McKee at (706) 840-1038 or Ramos at (706) 831-3211.
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