Pictured (L to R) are: Frank Gutierrez, Myles Bartley, Michael Stinfer and Andy Cochran at the Kosciusko County War Memorial Friday night in Warsaw. Photo by Jennifer Peryam, Times-Union
Pictured (L to R) are: Frank Gutierrez, Myles Bartley, Michael Stinfer and Andy Cochran at the Kosciusko County War Memorial Friday night in Warsaw. Photo by Jennifer Peryam, Times-Union
Former Marine and current National Guard Ranger Michael Stinfer and two of his friends made a 42-mile journey from Fort Wayne to Warsaw Friday.
The journey was in honor of Miles Bartley, 2-1/2, Warsaw, who is need of a kidney transplant.
Bartley’s aunt, Gloria Triplett, got ruled out to donate her kidney, and his mother, Sara Rife, is undergoing testing to donate her kidney.
Stinfer and Frank Gutierrez, Chicago, who served together in 2003 in Iraq, and Andy Cochran, Indiana State Police trooper, Warsaw, started the walk at 5:15 a.m. Friday at Sniper Company, Fort Wayne, and arrived at the Kosciusko County War Memorial in Warsaw at 9 p.m.
They traveled with 30-pound packs on their backs for 16 hours with food and water and wore military boots. They made stops on the way, one at Dunham’s Sports in Columbia City, to get a knee brace for Gutierrez.
Rife and Triplett met the men on US 30 to walk with them; and Myles, his sister, Vayda Bartley, and father Shawn Bartley walked the last stretch from Warsaw Community Public Library to the memorial.
Stinfer said there were surprises on the way including Matt Smith, Smith Farms, Columbia City, who donated funds, and Paragon Medical employees who also donated funds.
Stinfer had read the story on Bartley in the Times-Union March 11 and wanted to help Bartley. He came up with the idea to raise money for Bartley’s medical expenses with the walk where people could sponsor per mile.
Stinfer was a combat veteran in the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003 and he also served in the Marine Corp. from 1999 to 2003.
“You start to realize the simple things you can do in your life that can affect it, and never take for granted what you have,” Stinfer said.
Stinfer set up an account for donations for Bartley at Lake City Bank in June that people can donate to called the Myles Bartley Savings Benefit Fund to assist with Bartley’s medical expenses. People also can donate online at www.miles-for-myles
Stinfer said the goal is to raise $50,000 for Myles, and $5,000 has currently been raised.
The men said they were honored to do the walk.
“People call us heroes, but the real hero is little Myles who is going through this medical condition and it’s tough,” Gutierrez said.
Cochran said he was glad to do the walk.
“This was awesome and I give all the credit to Michael because he set everything up and I was glad I was able to participate,” Cochran said.
Rife said it touches her that the men did the walk and the fund has been started.
“Anybody in the military is a special kind of person and you can definitely see that today,” Rife said.
Bartley’s father said he is grateful for the fund.
“When my son gets a kidney he won’t have to be hooked up 10 hours a night to his kidney dialysis machine,” Bartley said.