red, white, and blue star with initials B V A

2019 Blinded Appalachian Trail in North Carolina “In Honor of Chief Joe Parker”

BVA Members and Guides standing in front of the Chattachoochee National Forest Sign
BVA and BVUK Members and their guides standing in front of the Chattahoochee National Forest sign and billboard during the 2018 Blind Appalachian Trail event.

Three members of the Blinded Veterans Association, along with their guides, will walk the 96-mile portion of the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina.

Beginning on the 24th of September at Blue Ridge Gap in Northern Georgia, theses veterans will average 16 miles a day for 6 days ending on the 29th of September at Fontana Dam in North Carolina.

This falls under the B-A-T program which is run by the Blinded Veterans Association Operation Peer Support Program (BVA OPS). The mission of this program is to help get visually impaired veterans of various abilities out to experience the Appalachian Trail. The blinded veterans will complete sections of the trail over time, around specific dates to memorialize great military accomplishments that represent the freedom gained by overcoming our adversaries. The idea is to allow participants the opportunity to overcome their own adversities they face and to raise awareness and understanding with the general public and to those that may be out there that have their own challenges.

The Blinded Veteran participants include:

Lonnie Bedwell, Petty Officer First class U.S. Navy Submariner.

Ken Horn, Lieutenant Colonel U.S. Army (Ret).

Danny Wallace, First Sergeant U.S. Army Ranger (Ret).

Their Guides include:

Mike Ramsey, a retired Army Ranger, 62 years old who works for Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Department as the Range Manager.

Derek Runyon, a retired Army Ranger, 47 years old who works as a member of the Joint Expeditionary Team primarily in Afghanistan helping Soldiers.

Scott Stover, former Army Ranger Officer at CFM, 47 years old and works as a Senior Executive for Chik-Fil-A.

Jimmy Phipps, a former Army Ranger, 49 years old. He owns a heating and air conditioning business in Dahlonega, GA.

Matt Cook (Doc), is a Navy Veteran and a full-time fireman in Gwinnett County and works part time for the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s office.

Tom Wilburn, a retired, Army Ranger, 59 years old.

Their Support Crew includes:

Joe Amerling, a Retired Army Ranger and a retired police officer and an honorary member of the BVA.

Bob Williams, an Army Ranger and President of the U.S. Army Mountain Ranger Association.

This year’s hike will be dedicated to Former BVA President Chief Joe Parker. Chief Parker served his country in the U.S. Navy, completing 2 combat tours as a Seabee in Vietnam and received numerous personal and unit decorations. He retired as a Chief after 30 years of service. It was after retiring from his civil service career that he returned to the mountains he loved. He designed the log home that he had built on a piece of land he bought in Pisgah Forest, NC. Chief Parker served in all leadership positions with the Blinded Veterans Association. On Tuesday, August 27, 2019 Chief Parker passed from this world but, his dedication to duty and guidance will not be forgotten.

Contact persons for interview:

Daniel Wallace: 636-266-1550