By Jamie Leary

DENVER (CBS4)– A British World War II veteran who has raised more than $40 million for coronavirus relief has unwittingly inspired a friendly competition with a Colorado WWII veteran.

“We saw the article regarding Tom Moore’s program, what he was doing, we decided… why can’t we do it?” said Ray Burns.

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Ray Burns (credit: CBS)

Burns, who now resides in Denver, served not only in WWII but the Korean War, the Vietnam War and during the Cold War era. Seeing the accomplishments of fellow veteran Tom Moore reminded Burns there are ways he can continue to serve.

Burns has decided, he too will raise money for coronavirus relief by walking.

“I love my country and do everything I can to make it a better country,” said Burns.

Moore — known as “Captain Tom” — began with a simple intention: to raise money for coronavirus relief through walking. He quickly won the attention of health care workers and media.

“Tom, I think, walked around his garden about ah, I forget … 25 times? It’s a relatively short distance so I’m going to go for 100 kilometers which equates to about 62-plus miles. So I’m going to do that in segments of about a kilometer in the morning and a kilometer in the afternoon. So I’ve got plenty of time before my birthday which is on the 5th of August,” said Burns.

Ray Burns (credit: CBS)

Burns will turn 100 years old on Aug. 5 and will walk daily until then to raise money. He realizes Moore’s $40 million is a lot, but he is hopeful his 62 miles will be enough to make a difference in the fight against COVID-19.

There’s another reason this is so important to him. His daughter was a registered nurse. His wife had pancreatic cancer. He lost both and does everything he can to support the health care industry.

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“In 2004, I lost my last living brother and then a year later in December, my daughter was killed in an accident … and then a little over a year later my wife died. So about four years, from 2004 to 2007, was the roughest years of my life, really.”

Burns has been through a lot in his 99 years. It’s through gestures like this that he continues to find happiness … a way to keep moving his feet.

CBS4 asked Burns what he thought his wife of 62 years might say about his latest endeavor.

“I know exactly what she’d say, she’d say, ‘Are you sure you can make it?’” he laughed.

Burns is confident he will be able to accomplish his goal. As for the man who gave him the idea … Captain Tom: “I’d say that I admire him, what he’s done for his country, what he’s done for himself in particular at his age, doing what he’s done.

Ray Burns (credit: CBS)

With help from his family and physician Dr. Lisa Davidson, every penny Burns raises will benefit Denver-based Mile High United Way.

If you would like to help Burns raise money as he walks his way to 100 years old, visit his GoFundMe page: PapaRayWalks100.

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CBS4 plans to follow his progress and celebrate alongside Burns when he hits the century mark.

Jamie Leary