3,091-mile walk will benefit veterans
When Kevin Winton decided last year to walk across the United States in April to raise money for Helping Hands for Freedom, a veterans organization, he thought it was a crazy idea. Now that the date is nearing, he knows it is.
“But I’m excited about it ... although a little anxious,” said Winton, who along with his walking partner, David Roth, will begin their trek across the country April 28, departing from Atlantic City, N.J., on historic U.S. Route 40.
Their journey – known as the Route for the Brave – will take them 3,091 miles across 14 states in four months, during which time Winton expects to wear out about eight pairs of shoes and countless socks. They hope to average between 3 and 4 mph and 25 miles a day, six days a week. That figure will increase to 30 miles when walking on flat land but decrease when covering the mountainous West. And when it gets really hot, they will do a lot of their walking at night.
Their training began last summer by walking much of Route 40 in Indiana. They normally walk twice a day, covering anywhere from 8 to 16 miles. Winton once logged 35 miles on a Sunday – a round-trip jaunt from his Acton home to the Route 40 marker in Downtown Indianapolis.
“The people I met as we walked across Indiana were extraordinary and truly amazing,” Winton said. “The stories shared as we stopped at various small communities were fascinating. It is impossible to describe the sunrise over the soybean fields near Spiceland. The number of hawks was too numerous to count, but the bald eagle flying along the White River and then perching on the old Washington Street Bridge was one incredible sight. I had no idea how invigorating walking would be. I can’t begin to imagine the majestic views we will have over our venture.”
Winton, 50, is a longtime math teacher at Beech Grove Middle School and coach of the Academic Pursuit team, which recently won the Marion County tournament. Roth, 47, is a detective on the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and board chairman of Helping Hands for Freedom. They will share their journey via a blog, videoconferences and pictures.
The logistics of the walk are being ironed out by Mike Bowman and Darin Fishburn, who is described as the “engineer of the train.” Fishburn has secured the use of a chase van from Dellen Oldsmobile and a recreational vehicle. People who make monetary donations that start with the denomination of double 2s will be eligible to win the van in a drawing after the walk.
The number 22 is significant because Roth said that is the amount of veterans who commit suicide daily, although he thinks the number is higher because of those not receiving documented care.
Winton and Roth, who are neighbors, hope to raise part of the $3 million needed to build a house of healing for the families of servicemen and first responders. Upcoming fundraisers are this weekend at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino in Shelbyville, where Friday’s event will feature the band Exile and auctions; the cost is $25. Tickets for Saturday’s gala are $100 and also available at www.helpinghandsforfreedom.org.
Benefits will also be held at New Bethel Ordinary Restaurant and Lounge, 8838 Southeastern Ave., from 4-9:30 p.m. April 12 and Flashbacks Family Bar & Grille, 6835 E. Southport Road, from noon-11 p.m. April 16.
The cause has turned into a passion for Roth, who said he hopes his passion will pay off. “A small donation is just as important as a big one. I wish the walk could start tomorrow.”
Winton and Roth should arrive in Indiana in late May. “Wouldn’t it be nice to be in Indianapolis for the Indy 500,” Winton pointed out. They expect to be joined in the walk at times by their families and friends and veterans.
Winton’s daughters, Kathryn, Jessica and Elizabeth, all of whom are college students and graduates of Franklin Central High School, and his girlfriend, Laura Williams, have been supportive.
Also big backers are Winton’s parents, Jim and Sue, who live in Acton on a farm that has been in Sue’s family since 1842. Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, signed the land grant deed.
“I’m hoping that all of them will bring me some ice cream when I am walking through Indiana,” he said.