Dozens of bikers and truck drivers joined the escort for the fifth annual "Wilderness Walk for Warriors". They met on Hayes Street on Saturday morning, on the outskirts of Bangor International Airport.
After their meeting point in Bangor, the bikers and Jeep drivers rode to Monson for a ceremony and barbecue. From there, nine hikers physically carry "honor rocks" up Mount Katahdin. The rocks were all painted with the face of a fallen soldier or first responder.
"To remember that our first responders and service members give their lives for us and for our freedoms and that we should take the time to thank them," said biker Chris Robinson when asked why the event was so important.
The hikers that go on from Monson carry the honor rocks one hundred miles over ten days to the summit. After the climb, they give the rock to the surviving family members.
"We end up, meeting and greeting them," said James Troutt, a Gold Star family member. "The last day they get to Katahdin Stream, I bring them a little refreshment."
Troutt, from Sherman, passed over the honor rock for his fallen grandson who served in Iraq.
Dustin Harris died 12 years ago, but his family said events like the Wilderness Walk for Warriors make sure he isn't forgotten.
"To a Gold Star family," said Troutt. "Every day is like Memorial Day to us."
One man who had been part of the bike escort every year said its an honor riding with the rock for Maine State Trooper Glen Strange.
"I cry every year," said Shayne Leavitt. "It's very emotional, pulling into Monson and seeing everybody welcome us there because they know what we're doing, there's no other feeling in the world."
Along with remembering those gone, the walk also raises money for veterans every year.
"It all will go back to service members, veterans, and/or their families," said Chris Robinson, the founder of Wilderness Walk for Warriors. "Our motto is assisting the living and honoring the deceased."
The Gold Star families were thankful for the hikers physically and emotionally carrying the memory of their loved ones.
"Very patriotic state Maine is," said Troutt. "Just amazing what the people do here for our veterans."
Anyone who would still like to donate or get involved for next year can visit the Wilderness Walk for Warriors Facebook page.