By Jamie Leary

(CBS4) – A Colorado World War II veteran who has been walking to raise money for health care workers has reached his goal ahead of schedule. Ray Burns, 99, planned to walk 100 kilometers by his 100th birthday, Aug. 5. On Wednesday, 6 weeks ahead of schedule, Burns finished his last half mile with his family and neighbors by his side.

(credit: CBS)

“I feel so good I can’t believe it! Particularly, I think the walks have helped me,” said Burns.

Burns was inspired to raise money when he saw a British WWII veteran had done a shorter walk and raised millions for COVID-19. While Ray didn’t raise millions, he did get to know his neighbors. Every day Ray walked, someone would join him.

“Every morning at 9 a.m. there’s at least one or more waiting at my steps,” he continued, “I never realized how valuable it would be for me to really get to know all my neighbors and friends.”

Burns’ daughter, a registered nurse, passed away in 2005. Not long after, he lost his wife to pancreatic cancer.

“That was quite a setback and I’ve always had a place in my heart for the medical people.”

Just another reason he was motivated to keep walking.

Burns has lost 5 pounds walking over the last 55 days.

“I was struggling getting up the steps, now I can walk!”

On Wednesday, Burns’ neighbors held up a homemade banner for him to break through as he crossed the finish line.

(credit: CBS)

“World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War with the Soviet Union and I’m still here enjoying life. What more could you ask for?” he said with a beaming smile.

He says he’s not sure what’s next, but his fundraiser is still active. If you would like to help Papa Ray continue to raise money, go to his GoFundMe page.

Jamie Leary

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