Auburn’s 76-year-old ultra-marathon walker came home last Friday, completing a 1,508-mile journey halfway across the country for a worthy cause.
Don “Pacin’ Parson” Stevenson walked far so that others might see, dedicating his latest walk to his friend, 12-year-old Nicholas Premo, who was born blind and developmentally disabled.
“I really believe in a few years he will be able to see,” Stevenson said following a reception at the steps of City Hall. “This was a good walk, one I dedicated to (Nicholas). … I love walking and find it invigorating, inspiring and rewarding in many ways.”
The Lion Heart Walking for the Blind took Stevenson across half the continent, originating June 11 from Rugby, N.D. – the geographic center of North America – and ending in the late-summer heat at Auburn last week.
Stevenson walked a part of the way blindfolded. He wore out five pairs of shoes during the three-month walk.
The walk alone raised more than $5,000 for the club and research for the blind and sight impaired. The Bonney Lake Lions Club sponsored Stevenson who had no shortage of volunteers to join him along U.S. Route 2.
Stevenson helped bring awareness to the cause while helping the Premo family.
“We are humbled,” James Premo said of Stevenson’s generosity to his son. “It means the world to us.
“(Nicholas) knows something big is going on. He doesn’t know what exactly.”
Stevenson said this might be his last extensive walk. He is considering taking time off to write inspirational books and do more work for his church.
This is not the first time Stevenson has walked this way.
The former Marine, pastor, teacher and truck driver has walked about 50,000 miles for various charities since 1998. Long-distance walking became his passion after his retirement in 1994.
Stevenson walked blindfolded to support Maria Federici, a Renton woman blinded by an unsecured load that struck her car in 2004. The walk took Stevenson along the John Wayne Trail for 106 miles from North Bend to Vantage, ending at the Columbia River.
Since the walk, “Maria’s Law,”signed by the governor in 2005, makes failing to properly secure a load a crime.
Stevenson also has walked as far as Tijuana, Mexico, and Anchorage, Alaska, for charity. One of his longest walks was a 13,000-mile trek to New York City and back for the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.
Benefit: 1 p.m., Saturday, at Midtown Grill, 20609 State Route 410 E., Bonney Lake. Program, lunch, slideshow honoring Don Stevenson and his benefit walk for Nicholas Premo. Proceeds go to the Lion Heart Walking for the Blind. The public is invited.
Donations: They can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank, account no. 2553789732, or mail donations to: the Bonney Lake Lions Foundation, 18429 89th St. E, Bonney Lake, WA 98391. Write checks to: Bonney Lake Lions Foundation. (put “Blind Walk” on the check’s memo line). Or donate online at www.thepacingparson.com.