On Sept. 9, Macomb Township Firefighter Joe Warne will embark on a 140-mile walk known as the Walk for the Red. This is the third time Warne is taking a special walk to benefit firefighters with cancer.

On Sept. 9, Macomb Township Firefighter Joe Warne will embark on a 140-mile walk known as the Walk for the Red. This is the third time Warne is taking a special walk to benefit firefighters with cancer.

File photo by Deb Jacques


Firefighter fundraiser walk across state starts soon

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published September 8, 2021

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MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Joe Warne once again will take his passion for helping firefighters across the state.

Warne, a Macomb Township firefighter, is set to begin his third, 140-mile walk Sept. 9. The plan is to depart Macomb Township Fire Station No. 2 on 21 Mile Road that morning. A Coast Guard flyover is scheduled as part of the festivities. The Walk for the Red will end Sept. 12, east of Grand Rapids.

Money raised from the walk will benefit firefighters with cancer. In 2019, Neighbors United raised over $32,000 from the walk. Warne, who is the president of Neighbors United, said the goal is to walk about 35 miles per day.

Regarding the walk, Warne indicated Neighbors United truly believes that by Sept. 9, it should be at $40,000 raised. He said that amount is significantly higher at the time leading up to a walk than past years.

“The ceremony will include gifts given to the wives of the fallen,” he said. “There’s a special guest coming who is the wife of a fallen firefighter who passed away of a heart attack, but will be there to keep his legacy alive.”

He anticipates a good-size parade will kick off the walk, heading west on 21 Mile Road.

With part of the walk coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Warne will stop in Lansing the morning of Sept. 11 for a memorial. The plan is for the Lansing Fire Department to guide the walk out of Lansing, toward Delta Township.

Warne’s training for the walk consists of five-mile walks every other day and, once a week, walking 12-15 miles. He also trains with light free-weights every other day. He said he completely changed his diet, losing 32 pounds.

In other Neighbors United news, throughout August, the nonprofit organization participated in the 2021 Rock Family of Companies Community Challenge. Donations went to helping families associated with Chippewa Valley Schools that are battling cancer.

Warne said that challenge wrapped up Aug. 27, with around $9,500 donated to Neighbors United. Those funds will be matched by Quicken Loans. Neighbors United came in fourth place in the challenge.

“We want to thank the citizens for really stepping up in the community and showing the families they are loved no matter what they are going through,” Warne said.

The fundraising goal for Chippewa Valley families was over $9,000. Over 130 individuals donated.

Chippewa Valley High School Principal Todd Distelrath, Chippewa Valley High School senior Mitch Brand and Mohawk Elementary student Landon Morrison will be on the receiving end of the funds.

Previously, Morrison’s mom, Lori, said the family is humble and grateful that Neighbors United is offering to assist in this way.

Landon was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a type of cancer that affects muscle tissue. His family says someone being diagnosed is a four-in-a-million occurrence.

Morrison is receiving chemo and radiation treatment at Ascension St. John Hospital. In June, he had surgery at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. His mom anticipates the money will be used to alleviate medical costs.

Warne said the families are still going through a lot.

“They are all very thankful,” he said.

Warne met the Brand family in late-August at a football pep rally, prior to a Chippewa football game.

“They were very nice, very humbled and appreciative,” he said.

Next year, Neighbors United will take the walk to Texas, in addition to Michigan.

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