WINCHESTER, Ky. (WKYT) - A group of protesters have walked for nearly a hundred miles in a little more than a week to raise awareness against a controversial topic. The group, "Footprints for Peace," made a stop in Winchester after starting their trek in the coal fields of Prestonsburg and will end in Frankfort. Already they've braved the snow, the wind, and the rain and their journey is still far from over.
"(My) Back is hurting a little bit, (my) hips are sore, but when I think of our friends up in the mountains that are suffering it doesn't hurt quite so much," answered Larry Crane, of "Footprints for Peace."
The "friends" Crane is speaking of are the people he says are getting sick because they live near mountains that Crane says are being blasted for mountaintop removal mining.
While Crane understands the need for mining, he and the other volunteers have taken on the nearly 200 mile hike to spark a change. Along the way many volunteers from parts of Kentucky and even other states have joined in.
"We're walking with an average of ten to 12 people a day. We started with a certain core group, several people join in and then walk for a couple of days," said Crane, who went on to say the group typically covers 12 to 15 miles a day before finding rest at a church or community center.
"Marches and walks have conquered a lot of things," added Billy Edwards, who is one of the volunteers helping house and feed the walkers.
Edwards said he admires the groups drive after fighting the elements and fatigue all to promote the cause.
However, coal supporters say this group only speaks for a small population. Bill Bissett, President of Kentucky Coal Association, said,
"It's important to remember that half of the coal mined in Eastern Kentucky is done through surface mining. It's a heavily regulated, legal process and in many cases is heavily supported by people who live there. These people have every right to have their voices heard, but it's important to remember that they represent a very small number of people in Eastern Kentucky."
Still the group won't rest long. In the morning, they will lace up their shoes and make their way into Lexington, putting them one day and a couple of miles closer to their goal. The group said they will make it to Frankfort on February 14th, where they will join with others in support of "I Love the Mountains Day."