This determined military veteran will conquer the Might Mac bridge on this year’s Labor Day.
“If you want to do something, do it. Put it in your mind, put your body to it. That’s what I did… I always wanted to walk the Bridge, and I’m going to walk it,” a determined 87-year-old military veteran proclaimed six days before commencing the annual event off his bucket list.
Oozing with confidence and eagerness, Tom Kennedy has wanted to walk across the Mackinac Bridge for nearly seven decades. ABC12 News reported that the Army veteran has been training all year to get physically prepared to tread across the five-mile-long “Mighty Mac” bridge.
A year and a half ago, Kennedy told his fitness trainer his goal to participate in the annual Mackinac Bridge Walk every Labor Day in Michigan.
“I told him I’m going to walk the Bridge, and he said, ‘OK you’ll walk the Bridge. I’ll walk the Bridge with you,” the Army veteran shared in an interview. In preparation, his trainer changed Kennedy’s exercise to focus more on endurance and balance, two skills the veteran would need for this Monday’s walk. Before the big walk goal, the two have trained together already for over four years, about five days a week.
“And based on everything I’ve seen so far, he’s absolutely going to do it this year. Despite whatever he’s going through, he’s going to come in here with a fantastic attitude and he’s going to do his best,” fitness trainer Adam Wray said.
Meanwhile, the entire gym family lauded the veteran and expressed how Kennedy inspired them in one way or another.
“He’s a joy, he’s fun to watch and go through his changes and the goals and what he’s accomplished,” said gym manager Jennifer Imhoff.
A gym member said, “Tom is like family around here.” They love having the 87-year-old veteran around. “When he’s not here, we miss him,” he added, with some of the gym members even going as far as calling him their hero.
“We celebrate his birthday every here, he’s an icon here. That is truly my hero,” another gym member shared.
The heartwarming respect and love are mutual, as Kennedy also, in exchange, feels inspired by everyone working out in the gym.
After over a year of preparation, is Kennedy ready for the five-mile walk?
“Oh, I’m definitely ready,” he said enthusiastically to the reporter. Moreover, estimating that the walk might take him three hours to complete.
Seven years ago, a 91-year-old WWII Army veteran also announced his participation in the long walk at the Mackinac Bridge. In 2015, two years following the devastating death of his wife, William Yaeger said he’d trek alongside thousands of people across the five-mile Bridge. Unlike Kennedy, a two-mile walk was part of Yaeger’s daily routine, which he’d done hand-in-hand with his wife for more than 30 years. After her unfortunate passing, the sons of the Army veteran took turns walking with him, sometimes with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to continue his routine.
Earlier this year, Yaeger passed away at 97.
The ‘Mighty Mac’
In commemoration of Labor Day, the state of Michigan annual closes the Mackinac Bridge to public traffic and allows pedestrians to tread the five-mile-long Bridge. This tradition is participated by thousands of walkers led by the governor of Michigan and is the only time pedestrians are allowed to cross the Bridge on foot. This has been happening since June 1958 during the Bridge’s dedication ceremony. Governor Mennen Williams also led the walk with less than 100 participants. A year later, the schedule was changed to Labor Day.
Dubbed the “Mighty Mac,” the Mackinac Bridge remains the fifth-longest suspension bridge in the world and the longest suspension bridge in the western hemisphere. It boasts an overall measurement of 26,372 feet, with the length of its suspension of over 8,600 feet. On the other hand, the width of the roadway is more than 50 feet, and its height at mid-span is approximately 200 feet above sea level.
This year’s walk will take place on Monday, September 5, beginning at 7 AM in St. Ignace and Mackinaw City. Those who wish to cross the entire Bridge must arrive at the midpoint on or before 10 AM. Otherwise, they’ll be asked to turn around and walk back to the city they started from. You can access the closure details and participant rules here for further information.
Rooting for Tom to finish the walk and cross “walk on Mackinac Bridge” off his bucket list!