In 1952, it was suspected I might have had a mild form of polio. My left leg, from time to time, to the touch, would feel ice cold. Therapy had been underway for almost a year, visits to West Palm Beach from Fort Pierce, when another tragedy occurred. The car dad was driving ran over me and the doctors informed mom and dad, that their little boy may not walk again. After much prayer and doctoring, “little jack” did walk again. The next few years presented some physical, emotional and financial difficulties for our little family, but we all made it, we all kept going.
Fast forward several years to the news that dad had Alzheimer’ disease. On June 30, 2000 he passed away, and the man that had served Honorably in the United States Navy during the second World War, was gone. The man that showed us how to play baseball, fish, ride a bicycle, and work on a car, had passed away to soon. Those were tough times.
A few short months after that, on March 27, 2001, I was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Kennistone Hospital in Marietta, Georgia, with a bleeding ulcer. The first few hours were touch and go because the blood loss had been heavy, the organs were shutting down. I’ve never been as scared in my life, and I wasn’t ready to leave at age 50, with two children and a wife depending on me.
I prayed, I told God if he would get me out of there alive, I would do some stuff. You see, I weighed approximately 273 pounds at the time. In my prayer, I told God I would get healthy and help as many folks as possible for the rest of my life, without regard to my financial future.
I came home, went to work and in eleven months 100 pounds came off, and over the next few years, another 18 followed. I am proud of this accomplishment.
Around 2006, this 56 year old man started running. I announced 5 long range running goals and accomplished them one after another. The hard work was paying off, and believe me, it was difficult. Upon finishing the last goal, another goal was set . . . To run across America to raise awareness concerning Alzheimer’ disease and raise money for the Alzheimer’ Association.
On June 1, 2012 “Across the Land” was born, the work began, handing out cards, handing out bracelets, wearing highly visible clothing, learning everything I could about both the disease and the suffering that goes with it.
On January 12, 2013, at Skidaway Island, Georgia, I began the Epic Journey from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. 2,594 miles were on foot pushing my jogging stroller (Wilson), and another 458 miles were in the passenger seat of a car.
On March 1, 2018, Down syndrome was added to “Across the Land” and I’m still out here, still running, jogging, walking and talking.
The possibility of having polio at age 2, and at age 3 getting ran over by a car make the 17,895 miles I have been on foot since June 1, 2012, even more meaningful.
I am keeping my promise.