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Zeeland man nears 911 miles walked for first responders

Jim Lambert has been walking every day since June to raise money and awareness for the mental health of first responders. His journey ends on Monday, September 11.

ZEELAND, Mich. — Every morning this summer, Jim Lambert has woken up early, and by about 5:30 a.m. his red Nike sneakers are pounding the pavement.

"I try to get like four miles in there, and then like make up a couple here work if I'm not busy, and then finish a couple at night. I have to do just under nine miles every day," he said.

Since June, Jim has been walking to raise awareness for the mental health and suicide prevention of first responders.

"I was reading an article about suicide rates among first responders, which is like one and a half times the normal rate dependent on what area you're in. And I think they're kind of an underappreciated area, especially in today's world. So I thought, hey, why not?" he said.

Along with raising awareness, Jim is also raising money on a GoFundMe page. That money will go to a Michigan-based nonprofit organization called "Call For Backup," which provides mental health resources and training for first responders.

"Every time they run out there could be their life. So for me to complain about getting up to walk a few miles, when they're hauling a big oxygen tank into a burning house - people say, 'Well, what about these hot days?' It doesn't bother me. Just think about what they go through. That's kind of where my mind is," Jim said.

Jim's final walk of the journey will take him from his office in downtown Zeeland, 9.1 miles away to JK's Cafe on Ottawa Beach Road in Holland. That walk will happen on September 11 and will conclude with a pancake breakfast that's free for first responders.

"Even if we can't raise funds, at least, I would hope everybody would go out and least say thank you for being there when we need you. That would probably mean more than a few dollars anyhow, in my opinion," Jim said.

If you'd like to follow Jim's 911-mile journey, visit the social media pages for The Heart in Home Group.

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