Retired pastor revisits Grand Forks on 4th walk across U.S.
For six days a week, Don Stevenson walks about 30 miles a day. The retired pastor from Auburn, Wash., is known for walking across the country. He's been nicknamed the "Pacing Parson." He clocks in a rate of three miles an hour. It's decreased fro...
For six days a week, Don Stevenson walks about 30 miles a day.
The retired pastor from Auburn, Wash., is known for walking across the country. He's been nicknamed the "Pacing Parson." He clocks in a rate of three miles an hour. It's decreased from four miles an hour since he started his walks in 1998, when he was inspired to put a longtime habit to good use.
"After I retired in 1994, I started talking walks to get out of my office," Don Stevenson said. "But I knew I didn't want to walk for myself."
Come rain or shine, Stevenson walks to raise awareness and funds for several causes.
His accumulated mileage over these 20 years adds up to more than 50,000. He's done 7,600 miles for Alzheimer's, 20,000 for multiple sclerosis, 13,000 miles for Huntington's Disease, along with other diseases.
This weekend, Stevenson passed through Grand Forks, which he's visited on previous walks, accompanied by his wife, Loretta, who follows him in her car. He's been walking to raise awareness of pulmonary hypertension-a high blood pressure disease that affects the heart and lungs.
A member of Stevenson's church, Betty Mayfield, recently died from the disease. The Stevensons' friends Dorothy Fitch and Cullen Steele were also affected, and Don Stevenson wanted to walk in their honor.
Loretta Stevenson said friendly faces have always been appreciated. Whether it's hotel managers offering complimentary rooms, or celebrities holding goodwill concerts in Stevenson's honor, the Stevensons' journeys have been met with positivity.
"Most people are really terrific," she said. "Some have become lifelong friends. People have gone out of their way for us."
Sometimes, help comes in the form of friendly drivers who pass either of the Stevensons, asking if they need help or a lift somewhere.
Both politely refuse. It's the only form of help they won't take, because Don Stevenson wants to stay true to his purpose and keep walking to his next destination.
"He does a marathon every day except Sunday," Loretta Stevenson said. "Except he's walking, not running."
"I'm walking to raise money," Don Stevenson said. "I figure it's not a race."
He has done four cross-country walking trips that take him to states such as North Dakota.
The couple particularly appreciates eastern North Dakota for its "beautiful scenery," and the good-natured company that Don said he welcomes. He recently walked with Clint Romesha, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient, in Minot, N.D.
"This walk has shown me America is not the 6 o'clock news," Don Stevenson said. "There are good people all over, who have helped me. It's because of you, I can walk through all of these streets and not fear."
For information on how to donate to the Stevensons' latest trip, go to http://www.o2breathe.org/ThePacingParson