Sunday, January 9, 2011

New Year's Column

Well, there goes another year. People died. People were born. Countries waged war on other countries and as always, innocent people got killed. In Haiti, an earthquake turned an already starving, under-developed third world country into something closer to a Stone Age civilization, and after the appropriate initial outpouring of sympathy and charitable telethons, it was quickly forgotten by all but a few.

In this country, the political scene just got uglier as a popular president became less popular and the two major parties can’t agree on anything. What that leaves us with is two factions fighting each other and the only loser is the entire country.
Speaking of which: beginning in mid-March, I will not only be talking the talk, but walking the walk---literally---across the entire country. I will start at the Atlantic Ocean in Savannah and begin a trek of around 2800 miles westward, hopefully reaching the Pacific Ocean in four months or less. As a younger man I used to do a lot of 20 mile walk-a-thons and usually managed to finish in a little more than six hours. Even using conservative estimates, adding another five miles a day makes the whole thing doable in 120 days.
Along the way I will be sending in dispatches from the road, as well as taking myriad photographs, and will also begin working on a book about my journey. I will also set up a website where I will be adding daily (where possible) updates on my location and the people I meet. I’m assuming that over the course of 2800 miles I will meet a few people.

The idea for this came about back in the spring of 2009, while I was doing my workout at Fitness USA, here in Jackson. I’ve written a couple of columns for this paper concerning healthy eating, exercise and lifestyles, and I found myself staring at a very unhealthy number on the scale one morning and decided that at age 49 I had better do something about it. The idea just popped into my head as I churned away on the elliptical machine that is my daily dread, and I immediately knew that this was something I could do with the proper training and conditioning. I’ve now been working out hard, have lost the equivalent of a fourth grader or so, and now feel that my legs are ready to carry me across the country.
The number on the scale that morning was 355. I can’t imagine a human being weighing that much, but there it was, digitally displayed---closer to 400 pounds than 300. The day I write this, I am down to 272, so I have lost 83 pounds to date. My goal is to reach 220, which will fit my big frame nicely. This trip should put a fine point on it.
I cannot do this alone. While the bulk of my expenses will be for food and water, I am looking for help covering my expenses, beyond what I am paying for out of pocket. I have several sponsors, commercial and personal, and could use a few more. If anyone is interested in sponsoring me, you can contact me at the email address posted at the end of this column.
Am I nuts? No. I am a firm believer that life is short, and you need to cram as many adventures into it as possible. This is just the next one…

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