‘Pacin’ Parson’ ready to step up to mighty challenge

The great explorer Meriwether Lewis walked as many as 30 miles a day on the untamed Great Plains – the early steps during the first American overland expedition to the Pacific Coast more than 200 years ago.

  • Saturday, April 26, 2008 12:00am
  • Opinion

The great explorer Meriwether Lewis walked as many as 30 miles a day on the untamed Great Plains – the early steps during the first American overland expedition to the Pacific Coast more than 200 years ago.

Don Stevenson vows to follow a similar path at the same clip, but in a varying direction and for a completely different cause.

It is not be an historic exercise, but a spiritual one for the passionate 72-year-old Auburn man. This former pastor is willing to go the extra mile to help others.

Stevenson – an ultra-walker better known as the “Pacin’ Parson” – will pass along parts of the Lewis & Clark Trail as he follows his carefully-calculated transcontinental walk to the East Coast in the months ahead.

The retired Darigold truck driver left at 6 o’clock this morning from the Space Needle to begin a 3,000-mile leg to New York City. It is the final part of a 21-month, 13,000-mile jaunt to raise money and awareness for Huntington’s disease (HD) – an inherited, progressively degenerative brain disorder.

Stevenson’s friend, Jack Meteyer, lost his mother, two brothers and a sister to HD. The two met walking in the park several years ago, and Meteyer asked Stevenson if he would walk tall and long for the cause.

Stevenson accepted the challenge. His walk, with the support of family and friends, has raised more than $10,000 through donations for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.

Stevenson has logged more than 40,000 miles criss-crossing North America to raise money to combat diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and lung cancer.

But his latest crusade for HD is different. It will be his longest walk since he first began charitable “sole-searching” work 10 years ago.

Given the distance and mission, Lewis would have been proud of the adventurous Stevenson.

And for this modern-day explorer, the spirit of Lewis will follow him as he puts one step in front of the other.

“I went over a lot of his territory, and I thought about (Lewis),” Stevenson said of a previous awareness walk through the Idaho Panhandle, Montana and over the Continental Divide. “I thought about him … but he had a greater challenge. He didn’t have any roads and he had to carry everything.”

Stevenson, a easy-going man, will carry only his thoughts.

Accompanied by his wife Loretta, who will drive a support van, Stevenson will follow a northerly path, along rural Highway 2, to Wisconsin. He then will head south through Green Bay, Milwaukee and Chicago before turning eastward toward New York.

He intends to reach the HDSA headquarters at the Empire State Building on Sept. 15.

In addition to HDSA’s support, Cenex has donated $1,500 in gas money and TOP Food & Drug is providing food. Other sponsors have joined the effort.

Stevenson plans to average 30 miles a day, a routine that will consume about 11 hours. He will sleep in motels and hotels along the way. He expects to go through six pairs of his trusty Brooks.

While he has lost as many as 20 pounds during walks of this nature, he hopes to maintain his 165-pound frame. He will snack as he trots. He will ignore the customary aches while battling headwinds, foul weather and other obstacles.

“In my mind, I am (tough),” said the former Marine. “You have to be.

“The only difficult thing is I won’t be home every night,” he added. “And I have different pains every day. It’s not always the same thing, but I have to walk through it.”

The Stevensons previously made the same trip to the Big Apple for MS in 2001, arriving four days before 9-11.

Leading up to the final leg, Stevenson has memorized every crack in the walkways while circling Game Farm Park, a routine that has consumed about 180 miles a week, 30 miles a day. He reached the 10,000-mile mark at a special farewell party on Tuesday.

“This is a really nice park … (but) I get tired of counting these leaves,” he admitted. “It is time for some variety, a change in scenery.”

Mark Klaas can be reached at 253-833-0218, ext. 5050, or

mklaas@reporternewspapers.com

More in Opinion

State taxed with the challenge of keeping up with a robust economy

Gov. Inslee: ‘Our revenue system is designed for a Model T economy in an Internet Age’

Carbon fee hurts business and families | Brunell

Reduce pollution in our atmosphere without punishing workers and families

Kavanaugh and the court of public opinion

By Karen Shepherd/For the Auburn Reporter The recent Brett Kavanaugh op-ed by… Continue reading

School is back in session, and KCLS is ready to help

It is fall and a busy time for teachers, students and parents.… Continue reading

Gov. Jay Inslee. REPORTER FILE PHOTO
He’s not on the ballot, but Inslee is campaigning like it

Republicans may find votes in making the election a referendum of the Democratic governor’s agenda

Avoiding trouble tweeting

Think hard before posting an angry, irresponsible or accusatory message

What’s really going on at King County Solid Waste?

Deliberate misrepresentation of facts and opportunities?

Living in an era when emotions, opinions outweigh facts

“In this era of post-truth politics, it’s easy to cherry-pick data and… Continue reading

Lampson beating odds for family-owned businesses

They are the backbone of the American economy

Move forward on water quality standards

In an unfortunate reversal, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided to… Continue reading

Even with postage paid, voters couldn’t send ballots on time

While those ballots don’t get counted, taxpayers still must pay the Postal Service for delivering them

Their I-940 made the ballot, but not the version they prefer

A much-divided state Supreme Court blew up an unusual compromise when it… Continue reading