Norm Raynal is planning on walking five marathons to raise money for the Fisher House in Landstuhl, Germany.

Norm Raynal is planning on walking five marathons to raise money for the Fisher House in Landstuhl, Germany. (Scott Schonauer / S&S)

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — Norm Raynal is a 64-year-old diabetic staring at retirement.

While most men his age are planning to take it easy after decades of work, Raynal is going to walk five marathons this year to raise money for families of wounded U.S. soldiers.

Raynal is hoping people will pledge a dollar or a euro for each kilometer he finishes. The money will go toward the Fisher House, a nonprofit inn that provides rooms for families of wounded servicemembers.

“I’m willing to stretch myself,” Raynal said of his marathon fund-raising campaign. “Maybe these other people are willing to stretch a little bit and contribute. ... And walking these marathons is a stretch.”

Fisher House organizations across the globe charge families a small fee or no fee to stay near U.S. military hospitals. Landstuhl’s Fisher House operating budget is largely funded through donations and a $10-a-night fee charged to families who can afford it.

Raynal, a civilian employee with the Defense Commissary Agency in Germany, will walk his first marathon this weekend in Kirn-Sulzbach. By the end of the year, he hopes to walk more than 210 kilometers (about 130 miles) and raise at least $15,000, or about 10 percent of the Landstuhl Fisher House operating budget.

Raynal came up with the idea of raising money after a friend suggested that he become a volunteer after he retires. The Army veteran did two combat tours in Vietnam. His son, a lieutenant colonel stationed at Fort Jackson, S.C., served a tour in Iraq. Both returned from their tours of duty without a scratch.

Walking the marathons is “sort of a payback” for being lucky enough to survive the dangerous missions, Raynal said.

Kathy Gregory, manager of the Landstuhl Fisher House, is rooting for him to walk as far as he can and raise as much as possible. There are two Fisher Houses that are a short walk from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the largest U.S. military hospital outside the continental United States.

The inns saw more than 930 families last year and are on track this year to serve 1,100 families.

“I was thrilled,” said Gregory when Raynal told her what he planned to do. “He was so enthusiastic.”

So far, he has raised $2,500 from individual sponsors and American and German businesses in the area. He already is planning to do more marathons next year, calling his current fund-raising campaign the “1st Annual Support to the Fisher House Marathons” on his Web site.

“The question isn’t whether I can do it; I can walk it,” he said. “The issue is how long it takes me to finish.”

If you would like more information on Norm Raynal’s fund-raising campaign for the Fisher House, or you would like to make a pledge, click on

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now