John Long’s 50-mile walk around Statesboro’s bypass May 14-15 and the Fallen Law Officer Memorial Service that followed drew $888 in donations to be divided among six law enforcement-related nonprofit organizations, he said after recovering.
Long noted that “8” was the badge number of Sgt. Wilbur Berry, the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office deputy who died after being shot while on duty May 19, 2001, and who was memorialized this week. Named in honor of Berry, the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Explorer Post 8, a career-based youth program affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, is one of the nonprofit groups Long had designated as beneficiaries.
The other five are the Statesboro Police Officers Foundation, Bulloch County Sheriff’s Foundation, Peace Officers Association of Georgia, Georgia Police K9 Foundation and Two Hundred Club of the Coastal Empire. Each will receive $148.
A mile to spare
After walking two loops of Veterans Memorial Parkway end-to-end beginning around 6 p.m. May 14 and continuing through the night, Long stepped into Connection Church shortly before the noon May 15 memorial service began. A counter app on his phone chimed the 51st completed mile just as he entered the church.
The last three miles had been the worst, he said, and after sitting down, Long found it very difficult to move again. He took a one-day break from all activities to begin his recovery and was able to wear boots again after a week.
Besides donations, Long had asked for volunteers to help with future Peace Officers Memorial Day events.
“I’ve had texts and calls one after another from people wanting to participate and help plan and be involved next year,” he said. “It’s just generating a new level of excitement, and I hope people are getting caught up in what the concept behind it is, and that’s showing support for law enforcement,” he said.
Long is director of Christian Social Ministry, based in Statesboro, but he made the walk as his own initiative. This was his third annual walk, and longest so far, carrying a “blue line” flag, a symbol of law enforcement officers. In 2018 he walked 40 miles across Bulloch County, after an attempt in 2017 in which he collapsed after 27 miles.