Ex-Giants DE Martin finishes 3,000-mile walk for 9/11 charity

Updated: June 22, 2008, 9:20 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN DIEGO -- It took 10 months, 24 pairs of shoes and 40 pounds of flesh, but former New York Giant George Martin can finally rest after taking the final steps of a cross-country walk to raise money for people with health problems linked to the Sept. 11 attacks.

Martin began walking from New York to California on Sept. 16 to draw attention to the plight of rescue and recovery workers who developed respiratory problems after working in the dusty ruins of the World Trade Center.

He marched the final 4 miles Saturday, arriving at a finish line in San Diego, where he was met by police officers, firefighters and other NFL alumni.

The trip began on the George Washington Bridge in Manhattan and covered 3,003 miles, winding south to Tennessee, west through Texas, and through high plains and desert to California.

Along the way, Martin trudged through rainstorms, winter ice and brutal heat, averaging 22 miles per day. He lost 40 pounds, burned through 80 pairs of socks, and raised more than $2 million, organizers said.

"These heroes need our collective support," Martin said in a written statement. "Many who answered our nation's call for help now cannot even walk up the steps in their own homes due to severe respiratory and other ailments. Some are dying. They deserve our help."

060621 NFLTA: George Martin feature

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Former Giants DL George Martin walks across America in effort to raise money for his foundation, Journey for 9/11.

Martin was a co-captain of the Giants team that won Super Bowl XXI. A defensive end who played in the NFL for 14 years, he is now an executive at AXA Equitable, a financial services firm. He lives in New Jersey.

Some medical studies have indicated that thousands of people may have been sickened by exposure to toxic World Trade Center dust. The number of people who suffered permanent damage is still unknown.

Martin's walk wasn't without hitches. High winds forced him to walk some segments of his route backward, from west to east, because headwinds were exhausting him.

He had originally planned to head for the Golden Gate Bridge, but adjusted his route part way through to finish in San Diego.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press