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LU Law Students Trek 100 Miles for Veterans

December 20, 2013

For two third-year students at Liberty University School of Law, Christmas break is the perfect opportunity to strap on 60-pound packs and pound just over a hundred miles of pavement between Lynchburg and Farmville.

More specifically, Mark Finelli and Ryan Adams have undertaken the "100 Mile Hump" to raise money for Operation Homefront, which gives financial assistance to returning military servicemen and their families.

So, beginning their trek at the entrance to the law school, Finelli, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, and Adams, currently serving in the U.S. Army, took the trek to Hampden-Sydney College, joined this year by Dr. Scott Keel, one of Finelli's friends from his time at that school.

There aren't any hotel stops or even decent accommodations along the way for the group, Adams said Wednesday, after the team had reached its halfway point before resting up for the return trip.

At nighttime, he said, "We kind of find a spot on the side of the road … get up at daylight and keep on going."

"I think people think we're homeless sometimes."

The team began their trip Sunday and reached the college by about 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Finelli had the idea for the project in 2010, when he was a student in graduate school at Arizona State University. He gathered a group of veterans to hike over 120 miles from that school to the University of Arizona.

"I said, you know what? I have to give something back," Finelli said Wednesday, after the group had already reached its midway point for a day of rest.

And the tradition stuck in Arizona, where it has continued every year since Finelli began the event.

"My dream was initially to have it spread all over the country," he said, but even in the two localities that host such events, he said it's good to know people are raising money and awareness for combat veterans, who often fall on hard times when they return from deployment.

Finelli said Wednesday the team has raised about $4,500 this year in support of the cause, and he still hopes they can hit their goal of $10,000.

"I'm gonna be hitting the phones tomorrow," he said.

Adams said though he's never been deployed in over two years with the Army, he feels a kinship and a need to help out his fellow servicemen who have been there.

"The military really is a big family. When somebody in your family is hurting, you help them out."