NewsPay It Forward


Racking up the 'charity miles': Former person of the year giving back step by step

Pay it Forward: Rick Ayotte
Posted at 9:02 PM, Jan 24, 2023

KENT COUNTY, Mich — Over the years, Rick Ayotte has hit his stride giving back to others in West Michigan.

Ayotte, featured as a Pay it Forward Person of the Month and 2015 Pay it Forward Person of the Year, has donated his time to help several organizations like My Team Triumph, the West Michigan Miracle League and Lori's Voice.

Now, FOX 17 has learned Ayotte is taking steps to pay it forward in a new way: he's walking hundreds of miles to benefit various organizations through the Charity Milesapp.

READ RICK'S ORIGINAL STORY: Man devotes time to "being a cheerleader" for kids with special needs

"I had been running quite a bit for the last several years, the knees started going, they just didn't allow me to run much anymore. So I felt a little defeated about not running, but I thought you know what, I can still walk," explained Ayotte. "My first year 2021, I walked a total of 1197 miles... and if you think about that's a pretty big number, I was upset I didn't hit 1200. I was three miles short of 1200. So I made a goal to hit 1300 for 2022."

Ayotte sped past that goal with 1,606 miles! Using the Charity Miles app, he's been able to donate to groups like The Wounded Warrior Project, Autism Speaks and currently The Epilepsy Foundation.

"I have several friends family members who suffer from epilepsy. So like I say that's near and dear to my heart. I think about them while I'm on my walk realizing I'm helping just a little bit," said Ayotte.

READ & WATCH: Celebrating a year of paying it forward

The steps all add up. Ayotte has been able to raise over $1,000 dollars by logging more than 3,800 miles.

"I really enjoy giving back. And when I found this charity app... I realized this is just another way to give back," he told FOX 17 News. "What's really nice about Charity Miles is it pairs with my Fitbit. And also pairs with Strava, which is another running app that a lot of people use running, walking, biking... you set it forget it and you go do your thing. You go do your walk, you run your bike, and it's ready to go."

Like the tag line displayed on the app, Ayotte is proud to know "every mile matters".

He said he has no plans to slow down.

"As long as God allows me to, as long as the body keeps keeps strong enough to do it. I wish it was running. But you know, I'm okay with it."

FOX 17 will announce the 2022 Pay it Forward Person of the Year January 26th during the annual Pay it Forward Awards Gala.

Know someone who should be featured for paying it forward? Nominate them here!

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