Ardmore was 80-year-old Al Slusser’s most recent stop in his 2,000 mile journey on foot across Oklahoma.
Starting in Marietta, Slusser, sometimes referred to as the “Ironman Grandpa,” arrived in Ardmore Wednesday afternoon and plans to reach the most northern point of Oklahoma in a little over 22 days.
This is not Slusser’s first trek, however. At 73, Slusser was recognized as “the oldest and only documented person to walk the width and length of America, as well as the width and length of Arizona.”
Slusser said he dedicates each one of his walks to a cause. Some of his past walks have been for senior citizens and Americans with disabilities, United States troops and veterans, and bringing awareness to poverty in Arizona.
“You only live once and I want this to be the most meaningful experience I can have because, to me, dedicating these walks to various purposes is so significant,” Slusser said.
Slusser refers to his trek across Oklahoma as “Walking for heroes,” to bring awareness to and thank first responders across the nation.
“My own experiences of disasters and how they were there for us — I wanted to do something in return,” Slusser said. “I think what they do is special anytime — I don’t care how much money they get, it’s not enough to put your life on the line.”

A part of thanking first responders entails visits to police stations, sheriff’s departments, 911 centers, Red Cross locations and fire stations along the way, Slusser said.

In his double role as an ordained chaplain, Slusser said he often joins in a prayer with officials.

“It’s just been very significant for them because they tell me ‘People just don’t do this. People just don’t say thank you’,” Slusser said. “They’re very guarded because they never know how the public is going to respond.”

Walking thousands of mile can, of course, be tiring, Slusser said. But meeting various people along the way is always the highlight of his journeys.

When he’s ready to take a break and rest for the night, Slusser pulls his cart, containing food, water, clothes and camping equipment, up to the nearest stop and asks if he can temporarily leave it there.

This place was Jordan Elliot’s mechanic shop for Slusser in Ardmore. Elliot said he has done some work with the Heroes with Hope of Southern Oklahoma foundation and respects Slusser’s cause.

“I think what you’re doing is awesome. It’s a good cause,” Elliot said as Slusser thanked him for his hospitality. “Anything to support local law enforcement is great for the community.”

As he continues to make his way up U.S. Route 77, Slusser said he hopes to inspire others to thank first responders in their areas and asks that drivers keep an eye out for him.

“There’s not always a wide shoulder so please watch for the old man with a cart and orange vest,” Slusser said.