Organizers excited for in-person Walkathon

Mountain Empire Older Citizens’ 45th Annual Walkathon, which raises money for the agency’s Emergency Fuel Fund for the Elderly, is set for Sunday, Aug. 29, at 2 p.m. at Big Stone Gap.

Registration will begin at 1 p.m. The 5K walk will start at 2 p.m. at Bullitt Park and proceed along the Greenbelt Trail. A hamburger picnic for participants will follow the event.

The fundraising goal is $165,000, and the community’s support is needed to reach it.

The Emergency Fuel Fund assists older people throughout Lee, Wise, and Scott counties and the City of Norton with winter heating costs. Last winter, the program helped 973 older families with heating-related emergencies at the expense of over $203,000.

This year’s Walkathon theme is Strong Community Raising Spirits. “That reflects the way this community has always supported and lifted those in need,” said MEOC Emergency Services Director Marsha Craiger. “The generosity of those who give to the Emergency Fuel Fund is a perfect example of that support.”

The Emergency Fuel Fund receives no state or federal money, Craiger added. “Every penny raised is used to heat the home of an older, low-income individual or family,” she said.

MEOC Executive Director Michael Wampler hopes for a good turnout at the Walkathon. He added that organizers are excited to return to a pre-pandemic format after last year’s event was held virtually. “It will be wonderful to be back outside for the 45th Walkathon,” said Wampler. “We are so thankful to the community for making last year’s virtual event a success but can’t wait to see everyone in person again this year.”


You can support the Walkathon in several ways.

Participate as a walker. Contact MEOC at (276) 523-4202 to request a pledge form and begin collecting pledges. Raise at least $100 to receive a Walkathon T-shirt.

 Donate. If you are unable to walk but would like to support the cause, you can easily contribute.

  • Donate online here.
  • Text DONATE to (276) 242-3525.
  • Mail a check to MEOC, P.O. Box 888, Big Stone Gap, VA 24219.

Spread the word. Everyone can help by telling family, friends, and neighbors about this event.

For more information about how to get involved in this year’s Walkathon, contact MEOC at (276) 523-4202.