Maryville resident Larry Ladd has combined forces with local business and community leaders to spearhead a walk to honor the men and women in law enforcement and firefighting.
The “Walk for the Blue” will take place on Saturday, Oct. 31, and will start at the Blount County Justice Center at 9 a.m. The walk will proceed to Washington Avenue down to Hall Road, turning around at the Lincoln Road intersection and then returning to the starting point. The distance is close to 3 miles.
Those wearing masks will be on one side of the street, with those not wearing masks on the other.
Upon returning to the Justice Center, fire and police officials will be given gift cards to show gratefulness for their dedicated service in the community, Ladd said.
“My family and I have lived in Blount County since 1972 and have been the beneficiary of outstanding fire and police protection,” Ladd explained. “This day I have many friends in our fire and police departments.”
Ladd has spent the past few weeks, with help from wife Lynn, asking businesses to support Walk for the Blue by contributing toward the gift cards. He said he had no trouble getting those donations.
“I just think this is the right time to honor our fire and police personnel,” Ladd said. “By the response I have received for donations and people wanting to walk, I believe many, many others agree.”
There are about 110 fire and police personnel in Maryville, 95 in Alcoa and 360 in Blount County. Ladd said each will receive a $20 gift card from Food City, Chick-fil-A, Subway, Subs and Such, PureMagic Car Wash or Ken-Jo Markets. There are more than 40 monetary sponsors.
Randy Lowe, owner of the Maryville and Alcoa Subway locations, is one of those supporters. He has offered the police, fire and EMS personnel in Blount County discounts for many years as a small way to show is gratitude.
Philanthropist Ed Harmon has traveled the world but said there is no better place to live than Blount County.
“I have lived in five other places,” Harmon said. “I have also been around the world three times and always glad to be home and feel safe knowing local law enforcement is there to protect citizens. There is no place in the world as great as Maryville.”
Walkers are encouraged to wear their University of Tennessee or other sports team attire and show up beginning at 8:30 a.m. Participants are highly discouraged from wearing or displaying any kind of political promotions.
“Every day across our great country and here in Blount County, brave men and women in fire and police departments put on their uniforms and go to work,” Ladd said. “Today, the risks facing our fire and police have never been greater. COVID-19 has, for the last 10 months, made serving and protecting the people of the U.S. and here in Blount County even more difficult.”