I wasn't sure where to post this and didn't want to multi-post on the site. Feel free to pass on to others. http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=188093 By Madhu Krishnamurthy | Daily Herald Staff Published: 5/9/2008 11:27 AM | Updated: 5/9/2008 8:30 PM After working 12-hour days flying wounded soldiers out of battle zones in Iraq, training for a walkathon in 120-degree desert heat may be the last thing a soldier would venture. Yet, that doesn't deter Capt. Drew Larson of Buffalo Grove, an Army Black Hawk medical evacuation pilot with the 82nd Medical Company on his third Iraq deployment. "Any fight worth fighting isn't going to be easy," said the 31-year-old, who is training for the two-day, 39.2-mile Avon Walk for Breast Cancer amid carrying out his military duties in Iraq. "I'm flooded with people wanting to do things for my soldiers and I out here," he said in an e-mail interview. "So I decided this would be a way for people to support me while allowing me to support this important cause at home." Larson and several comrades plan to do the walk in the Iraqi desert to coincide with the Chicago Avon walk May 31 and June 1. Instead of music, Larson trains to the din of whirring generators, firing at weapons ranges, passing military trucks and low-flying aircraft. His workout involves full-body weight training two to three times a week, and long walks in boots while wearing a 45- to 65-pound rucksack. He also trains with 6- to 12-mile runs around the military base in more than 100-degree temperatures. "I'll be on long stretches of nothingness," he said. "Sometimes, I feel like I'm looking in on a scene from the old movie 'Mad Max' because it's desert landscape with big scary looking military trucks." Larson reached his goal of raising $1,800 for the walk, but he plans to collect as much money as he can with help from the community rallying behind him here. "He felt he wasn't doing enough for the people back home," said Larson's mother, Karen Meadows of Buffalo Grove. "It's a way to stay connected here. He hasn't gotten involved in the society over here. He's been in the Army for 10 years. I am proud of his intensity and his caring about other people." Students, teachers and parents of Lake Zurich's Seth Paine Elementary School, who have ardently followed Larson's activities in Iraq, are spreading word of his fund-raising efforts. "This is just how he is," said Colleen Johnson, third-grade teacher at Seth Paine. "We need to support this. This is incredible. The way he has touched the lives of all of us, this is the kind of American that we should all be. He is our hero." Students have exchanged e-mails and videos with Larson, and provided him with care packages in recent years. Seth Paine parent Steve Kipperman said Larson has become a positive role model for his two children in first and third grade at the school, inspiring them to get involved in charitable efforts. "Everybody's touched by the guy's thought process," Kipperman said. "You've just got to look up to somebody who has that kind of a moral background. The kids know that he's helping people, and not just over there killing and things like that. I pray to God nothing happens to that guy." To donate • Go to avonwalk.org • Select the Make a Donation tab. • Select "Donate to a Participant." • Select "Chicago 2008" under "2008 Events." • Select "Search for a Participant." Search for Drew Larson and follow the instructions.