By Al Stilley
Senior staff writer
Please excuse military veteran Kevin Winton if he becomes too emotional when talking about his walk across America on the Route for the Brave.
Winton’s four-month, 3,091-mile walk with fellow veteran and Indianapolis police detective David Roth began in New Jersey April 28 and ended Friday in San Francisco. Winton spoke at a ceremonial banquet Saturday in San Francisco and arrived Sunday night in Indianapolis.
At the end of his walk, Winton’s parents, Jim and Sue Winton, presented him with a huge banner that was signed by administrators, faculty and staff at Beech Grove Middle School, where he has taught for 29 years.
Each morning Winton and Roth met and honored Gold Star parents, siblings and spouses who lost loved ones while serving the country.
“I cannot describe my emotions of the walk and especially the many Gold Star families who told us their stories of bravery,” Winton said. “We were able to share their personal pride, grief and sorrow in losing loved ones all along the way. Many of their comments will not be forgotten.”
The Acton resident who is a deacon at New Bethel Baptist Church was awestruck by the beauty of the land and the unity of the people across the United States.
“The beauty is beyond description,” Winton said. “And the openness of the people has been uplifting particularly at the end of the walk on many days.”
The scenes and hospitality were numerous: followed by deer down a mountain peak in Maryland and the Appalachian Trail; seeing the grandeur of Sideling Hill in western Maryland; pausing at the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pa.; enjoying the hospitality of New Bethel Baptist Church on the Southside; standing in an arch of a section of the Berlin Wall in Missouri; speaking at Chapman (Mo.) United Methodist Church; reaching the Berthound Pass and crossing the Continental Divide; seeing the sun rise above the Rocky Mountains; and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and seeing the San Francisco Bay.
Winton was thankful for all the cellphone calls and texts that Beech Grove teachers and friends sent him along the way of his ocean-to-ocean walk.
He explained that the goal of the Route for the Brave is to raise funds for Helping Hands for Freedom to build and maintain a multimillion dollar retreat house for military families.
SUBMITTED PHOTO BY BEECH GROVE MIDDLE SCHOOL Beech Grove Middle School faculty members (from left) Leigh Lux, Mike Shanahan, Jake Fritz and Sara Wiley display a banner that was signed by school administrators, faculty and staff and presented to teacher and military veteran Kevin Winton at the end of his walk across America to benefit Helping Hands for Freedom. The banner was presented to him Friday by family and friends who traveled to San Francisco.