Walk for charities
On Monday, June 11, Don Stevenson, Bonney Lake, Washington, began walking from the Geographical Center of North America at Rugby, ND to Seattle in the Pacific Northwest. Along the way, Stevenson, 76, will be raising awareness and funds for the blind and sight-impaired.
Stevenson is dedicating this walk to a 12-year-old boy, Nicholas Premo, Bonney Lake, Washington, who was born blind.
He walks about 20 miles per day while his wife of 29 years, Loretta, drives ahead and patiently waits for him to get to her. She keeps supplies on hand for everything he needs including food and water.
“She is such a game soul and a real sport!” said Stevenson. “I’m a hard man to love, but she makes it look so easy.”
They spent four days in Rugby getting up each morning at 5 a.m., Don to walk his 20 miles and his faithful companion to drive their vehicle. The total trip is 1400 miles. Some of his walking is done blindfolded when he gets a volunteer to be his guide.
Stevenson had his photo taken at his starting point, the cairn marking the Geographical Center of North America. He is a member of the Bonney Lake Lions and was invited to join the Rugby Lions at their noon lunch meeting on June 11. Lions Club International has earmarked those who are sight-impaired as their special project. He spoke about his mission at the Rugby Lions Club.
He has ultra-walked for more than a decade and has walked over 40,000 miles for various charities since 1998. He started walking after he retired as he thought it would be good for his health.
“I love walking and find it invigorating, inspiring, and rewarding in many ways,” said Stevenson. “God has blessed me with good health, and out of gratitude I’ve tried sharing that blessing with those less fortunate,” he added.
He retired in 1994 after 28 years of service with Darigold, Inc. He has pastored several churches, taught at a Bible school, drove 18-wheelers, served in the military as a Marine, served as an EMT and volunteer firefighter, and has authored many poems and short stories.
He has had many interesting life experiences on his journeys. One such experience is throwing out the baseball at a Seattle Mariners’ game. He has a photo with Dave Valle standing next to him. When he walked to raise money for Huntington’s Disease, he met Stone Gossard, a member of Pearl Jam who held a concert in New York City and raised $100,000 to fight Huntington’s for family members with Huntington’s Disease. Once when Stevenson was walking to New York in 2001 and they were behind the schedule they had planned, he wanted to be late with the schedule but his wife insisted they make up the time and stay on schedule. When in New York, they toured the Twin Towers, but Stevenson was uncomfortable in the Twin Towers and consulted with his wife about getting out of there. He said to her, “What if a plane were to crash into this building?” Just days later two planes crashed into the Twin Towers on September 11. The Stevensons speculate that if they had delayed their journey when he wanted to, they might have been in the Twin Towers when the planes hit. The timing was right.
The Stevensons say this will be their last walk. They have eight children, 40 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren to add to their blessings. They have enjoyed meeting all of the people along their journeys and say that the scenery across this country is absolutely beautiful.
This walk was sponsored by the Bonney Lake Lions Foundation and donations can be mailed to : Bonney Lake Lions Foundation, 18429 89th St. East, Bonney Lake, WA 98391. All checks need to be written to: Bonney Lake Lions Foundation, put Blind Walk on the check’s memo line.
Donations can be directly deposited into any Wells Fargo Bank, Acct. # 2553789732 “Lions Heart Walk for the Blind.” The Stevensons don’t take any of the money, preferring that all the funds go to the charity.
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