(FOX 2) - Cancer is the number one cause of death among firefighters. Now, a local hero is going for a long walk to raise money and awareness.
He's getting ready to walk 140 miles across the state in full gear - and he's asking for your support.
"It's a great four days of what this great state can do and the people of this state do. It's nothing but love and support for a cause and there is no fighting, there's no politics involved. It's just love and support for four days," said Joe Warne.
The Macomb Township firefighter will walk from Macomb County to the Cascade Township fire station near Grand Rapids.
Last year's walk raised $35,000 to help support 13 firefighters who have been diagnosed with cancer and their families.
"We learned that we were failing our firefighters, past, future and present on how we take care of them. We learned that 35-year veterans did not have heat, did not have working stoves, and some of them couldn't even afford to pay for gas to get to and from their kidney treatments," Warne said.
After learning cancer has become the leading cause of death for firefighters, including three this year from his own department, the 40-year-old felt compelled to make the brutal trek once again.
"You just have to remember what these guys are going through with their chemo treatments. Some of them passed away this year; we've lost six firefighters this year to cancer and the ones that are surviving, putting the gear back on - 140 miles, yes, it's a pain. Yes, it hurts but you just have to keep remembering what they are going through and that keeps you going forward."
What else keeps Warne going, and others who join in the walk along the way, is the support they receive from people on the route. They see crowds clapping, flags, posters and anything else that will keep them motivated and moving.
This year's walk kicks off on Sept. 24 at 7:30 a.m. at 17800 21 Mile Road in Macomb Township. The event will finish the afternoon of Sept. 27 at 2990 Bulttrick in Ada, Mich.