I woke at 3:30 a.m. from a dream last night and everything suddenly became clear. What is the one thing I could do that would combine every passion of mine so far? A walk across the US!
* Quest for how to best use my body/mind/spirit while here on earth.
* Writing a book of inspiration for caregivers of pediatric cancer patients.
* Raising funds for pediatric cancer research and caregiver support.
* Being outdoors and walking 10-15 miles per day, with a proven ability/love for long distance walking.
* Finding a way to quit my job temporarily, get out of the ‘cave,’ but in a way that could be supported to do what is in my heart.
As I meditated on this idea, my feet actually began “humming,” not audibly but with a vibratory sense that this is it! Upon waking, I did a search for all the people who are documented to have walked across America, and I intend to contact as many as I can via websites to interview them. The one glaring thing I discovered is, as far as I was able to see, no one has yet done this for childhood cancer research or caregiver support.
Below are a few I learned about. Wikipedia lists 42 of them. Currently there is a husband and wife team walking from East to West to raise money for people in Tajikistan.
1) Helga Estby (36) and her daughter Clara (18) in 1896 walked from Spokane, WA to NYC from May to December to try to claim a $10,000 prize offered for any woman to walk across America. She was refused the prize, claiming she had missed the deadline. She intended to save her family’s farm after her husband’s accidents and financial losses. She brought with her a compass, a revolver, red pepper spray, and a curling iron.
2) Doris Haddock (89) walked from Pasadena, CA to Washington D.C. (3055 miles) for campaign finance reform in 1999. She did the trek in 400 days!
3) Louis Figueroa, now 44, is the most prolific completing his 3rd trek, having run from East to West Coast first at age 16 to honor a pediatric cancer patient. His 2nd trek was in honor of his brother with AIDS, and his 3rd in honor of child abuse victims.
4) Joe Casamassima, then age 27, walked from Pennsylvania to San Francisco, June-Sept 2007, to raise money for multiple sclerosis.
5) Mycle Brandy (59) walked from Newport Beach, CA to Washington DC in 2010 to raise awareness of warning signs of stroke and met with patients in hospital stroke units as he went.
6) Matt Gregory (27) hiked for a year (2006-2007), 5000 miles from Bellingham, WA to Key West, FL to raise funds for Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in honor of his mom who died of cancer.
I have no idea how I would be able to take months out of a life that involves a child dependent upon me, so if I need to wait until she’s 18, I will. Seven more years is a lot of time to organize, get sponsors, etc., but this honestly feels like something I could do. To do something toward this before 2018, I intend to walk the length of my island by putting in 10 miles on my day off work each week, each time driving to a different starting point. The length of Whidbey is about 60 miles, but my route will be longer because I will stick with as many side roads paralleling the main “freeway” as I can.
My long walk vision is to stop at pediatric cancer floors along the journey, obtain support from all the cancer organization members I can find, and get sponsors to defray the sock/shoe/equipment budget. . . and possible hip replacements, if I start this at age 52 : )
I honestly don’t know how this will come to be, but just knowing I want this feels like a huge weight has been lifted.