Waynesboro’s marathon man ups the ante

WAYNESBORO — Forty-eight hours straight: that’s how long Captain Jason Perdieu of the Waynesboro Salvation Army, rang the Red Kettle bell in front of Walmart last year. Now, he plans to top that impressive accomplishment by ringing the bell for a full 52 consecutive hours. He started this year’s marathon at 9 a.m. on Wednesday and will stay out in front of the Lucy Lane Walmart in Waynesboro until 1 p.m. Friday.

“It wasn’t easy,” he said of last year’s marathon. “People said I was crazy, but I love doing it. I always liked ringing the bell, ever since I was a kid.”

Wanting to take last year’s fundraising feat one step further this year, Perdieu came up with “52 for others,” a reference to the number of weeks in a year.  A calendar stands behind him as he rings the bell. Every hour that goes by, he marks off a week.

“It’s one hour for every week of the year that there is need,” he said.

In “48 hours for others” — the theme of the 2016 marathon — he fought cold, sleepless nights, even sleep-deprived delusions. When asked what strategy he learned for this year, Perdieu said, “stay hydrated, eat lots of candy and layer.”

What keeps him going? People, he said.

“There are more people signed up for Christmas [with The Salvation Army] — it seems like the need grows every year,” he said. “I know there’s a need and every time the bell rings, someone gets a wish granted.”

He also encouraged people to stop by Walmart on Lucy Lane over the next 52 hours to say just say hi or to chat. Perdieu said he loves talking to people and that helps him stay awake and keep going.

Last year, the marathon raised more than $23,000. With a supportive community like Waynesboro, he said he hopes he can top it.

“The goal is always to raise more,” Perdieu said. “Last year was overwhelming. Everything raised in Waynesboro stays in Waynesboro.”

To get involved with the campaign, contributors and well-wishers can come out to support him, donate to the kettle or donate online at bit.ly/wynsboro.