Auburn’s man of sole has reached the halfway point of his long-distance dedication on foot.
Don Stevenson, the Pacin’ Parson, has completed about 1,500 miles of a planned 3,000-mile cross country mission to raise funds and awareness for pulmonary hypertension (PH), a high-blood pressure disease that affects the heart and lungs.
Stevenson, 79, who left from the steps of Auburn City Hall on June 9, reached Minot, N.D. last Friday. The following day, he walked about a mile with former Army Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor, in Minot, Romesha’s hometown.
“I have never walked with a Medal of Honor recipient,” Stevenson said by phone. “He thought it was an honor to walk with me, but I told him it was more of an honor for me to walk with him. He’s an all-American.”
Stevenson, who is averaging about 30 miles a day and 180 mile a week on his latest journey, reached Rugby, N.D. – the geographical center of North America – on Tuesday. From Rugby, it’s about 1,500 more miles to Silver Springs, Md., the Pulmonary Hypertension Association headquarters, the walk’s final destination.
So far the walk has gone well for Stevenson, who has followed Highway 2 across the northern part of the U.S. His wife, Loretta, drives a support vehicle ahead of him and secures overnight accommodations.
“Everybody has been nice to us,” Stevenson said. “The walk has gone well.”
On May 16, Stevenson completed 500 miles, reaching Libby, Mont., in the unofficial start of his walk. The head start increases the chances that the walk and return trip by car take place during good weather with an arrival to PHA’s Maryland headquarters by mid-September, Stevenson said.
Stevenson is dedicating his latest walk to Betty Mayfield, a friend and one of his church members, who recently died from PH.
“I visited her in the Auburn hospital and told her I would do a walk for PH to raise awareness and funds for research and do the walk in her honor,” Stevenson said. “She died a week or so later.”
Stevenson also is dedicating the walk to Dorothy Fitch, a friend who is struggling with PH, and to Cullen Steele, a Kent teen who recently received a double-lung and heart transplant and is making a strong recovery.
In 2010, Stevenson walked 1,200 miles around the perimeter of Washington state to help raise money for expenses related to Steele’s surgery.
Stevenson’s walk for PHA is his 20th since 1998 to raise money and awareness for medical causes he supports. He has walked more than 50,000 miles for various charities since 1998. Long-distance walking became his passion after his retirement in 1994.
PHA asks that supporters add #PacingParsonPHA to their social media posts.