Walkathon total: $123,800 and growing

The 46th Annual Mountain Empire Older Citizens Walkathon has brought in more than $123,800 so far, and every cent will help heat an older adult’s home in our area this coming winter.

Held Sunday, May 15, on Big Stone Gap’s Greenbelt Trail under beautiful blue skies and great weather, the event was a fundraiser for MEOC’s Emergency Fuel Fund for the Elderly. The fuel fund helps older people in Lee, Scott and Wise counties and the City of Norton with heating emergencies during winter months. Those at least age 60 with income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for assistance.

The Walkathon goal was $165,000, and organizers still hope to hit that mark.

“We are optimistic about reaching the goal in the coming weeks as donations continue to arrive,” said MEOC Executive Director Michael Wampler. “We appreciate everyone who came to the Walkathon to support the Emergency Fuel Fund. And we are thankful for every corporate sponsor, individual, business, church and civic organization who has given to the cause,” he added.

MEOC Emergency Services Director Marsha Craiger stressed the importance of community support to the fuel fund’s existence. The program receives no state or federal funding. Nor are administrative costs paid from the fund. Every cent goes directly to help pay an electric bill or to purchase wood, coal, propane or heating oil for an older person in danger of being without heat.

“The Emergency Fuel Fund for the Elderly is a community fund in all aspects,” said Craiger. “Those who live in the community donate and raise money to help their neighbors. It’s people looking out for and taking care of each other. That is what we do here. The generosity and giving spirit of our community never ceases to amaze me. It is a truly humbling experience to be a part of that, and we are so thankful for every donation,” she continued.


Platinum sponsors donating $10,000: Hilb Group/CSE Agency.

Gold sponsors donating $5,000: Norfolk Southern, Ballad Health, FasMart/Roadrunner Markets/Scotchman, Humphreys/Red River Coal, Old Dominion Power, Dominion Energy, University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Lee County Board of Supervisors, Scott County Board of Supervisors, Wise County Board of Supervisors, Lee Health & Rehab, and MEOC staff.

Bronze sponsors donating $2,500: Earthlink, Erie Insurance, Food City, Anthem HealthKeepers Plus, Crutchfield, and Enterprise.

Donations are welcome any time. Donate online here. Mail checks to MEOC, Attn: EFF, P.O. Box 888, Big Stone Gap, Va. 24219. Or drop off donations to MEOC’s administrative offices at 1501 Third Ave. E., Big Stone Gap.

Call MEOC at 276-523-4202 for more information about the fuel fund.

Visit our Facebook page here to see more photos from the day.