PLYMOUTH - Riley Hospital for Children continues to change the lives of Hoosier families and it is a mission they remain committed to since opening almost 100 years ago. One northern Indiana man said Riley changed his father’s life and some 40 years after his death, this son wants to say thank you.
“He was very outgoing, gregarious and just a good man,” Greg Compton said. The retired banker from Plymouth, Indiana is speaking about his father, Robert Neal Compton.
“They [Riley Hospital for Children] made it so he could walk. [In] 1925, kids were just kind of put aside in society. If it wasn’t for them, I probably wouldn’t be here today,” Greg Compton said.
Greg said his father stayed at Riley for three years after being born in 1925 with severe complications that left him unable to walk, and it was during that time and beyond, his father underwent 20 surgeries.
“They [Riley Hospital for Children] found some handwritten notes from the doctors communicating with the doctors here,” Greg Compton said.
Those notes are what sparked an idea are Greg got from Riley some 15 years ago. Once Greg retired in December, saying ‘thank you’ to Riley became a reality for the avid hiker.
“It’s not really about me, it’s not really about my father, it’s about kids right now who need the support,” Greg said.
The thank you is a 19-day walk across Indiana-- 260 miles from the Michigan border through Indianapolis and to Louisville by crossing the Clark Memorial Bridge. He is expected to walk through Indianapolis on April 14th, 15th, and 16th.
“I’ve been walking a lot. What I’ve been doing is my wife will drop me off in an adjoining city or my daughter and the boys' will and I’ll just walk home,” Greg said with a laugh. He continued, “I got it set up for people to pick me up or drop me off and pick me up throughout the walk, so I’ll walk about 15 miles every day.”
Aside from raising awareness, Greg is also hoping to raise $260,000 dollars for Riley Children’s Foundation.
“I don’t know that I’ll hit 260, but I’m sure going to darn try,” Greg said.
In a video statement, a spokesperson for the foundation said they are grateful for the support of both Compton and the community.
“As I understand, Greg has designated funding to go to our child life program. Riley Children’s Foundation funds about 75% of a child’s life,” Bruce Kopp with Riley Children’s Foundation said.
Greg’s journey starts on Monday at 9 a.m. sharp, rain or shine.
“I’m going to stay on my schedule. If a tornado hits or something I will look for a low area and lay down, I guess? I don’t know,” Greg said.
The grandfather said if you see him out walking, make sure to say hello.
“I’d love to talk. As a banker for the last 15 years, I’ve done a lot of talking.”
To donate to Greg’s memorial fundraiser through Riley Children’s Foundation, click here.