Someone asked me the other day why I plan to walk across America. To be completely honest, I had to stop and think about it for a minute. Where did this idea come from and why are we pursuing it? I know the answers, but I really didn’t explain it all that well for one reason or another. So, here is my Mulligan so to speak. Here is my “why”.
Some people know the story leading up to this crazy idea popping into my head. I was diagnosed with peripheral artery disease which severely affected my ability to walk, and later it was also determined that I had a main heart artery affected, that would have, if gone untreated, severely affected my ability to live. All were treated, and all are still a work in progress.
The main arteries in my legs were stented to allow blood to flow down to my feet, which is a good thing by the way. However, there are ancillary arteries that cannot be reached by the method used to place the stent. There is still blockage in those arteries and still cramping and discomfort when I walk quickly, attempt to jog, or walk for a long period of time without resting. I was told that walking would help create new arteries in place of the bad ones. A natural bypass. Walk, walk, walk I was told. So I did. Rain, snow, sleet, didn’t matter, and Roxy, our dog, was typically a willing participant.
During a blizzard in the early months of 2015, I decided to walk to the Sugarbush Tavern for dinner. Roxy was smart enough to stay home, and they don’t allow dogs there anyways, so I was on my own. Up until that point, I had a thought that just would not go away. I continued to nag at me, day after day. No, it wasn’t my wife’s voice I was hearing in my head, similar, but a different type of nagging. The thought was, what could I do to give back to people in need, people who are heading down the path of heart disease? I was lucky. They caught my condition in time and I was treated. I avoided what Dr. Kazziha says would have been a sudden death. Why me? Why am I still here, when others were not so lucky. Sure, it could be fate, but I kind of think it is more than that, and thought about it everyday.
So, as I walked and braved the elements on that cold blustery day, all I could think about is, what could I do to make a difference, oh, and how good it felt to walk. If I could walk in this snowstorm, I could walk anywhere at anytime. I could persevere. That’s when, without warning, the idea struck me. It made so much sense. A guy who has repaired legs will walk across America. Surely, this would provide inspiration for others. It would bring attention to a problem that has fallen into the background in America. I could make a difference. I felt a certain euphoria overcome me. This is the answer to that nagging question. Game, set, match!
That’s it. That answers the why question. To summarize, I wanted to make a difference. Is there a little bit of selfishness there? Yes. I also didn’t want to leave this earth before I made my mark, and this was the best way to do just that. I also realized, after the heart scare, that I could leave this earth at any time, so no time like the present.
My hope is that we can pull it off. That other people notice, and that heart disease gets the attention it deserves. People need to care for their bodies better, understand the risks of their lifestyle choices, and learn about heart disease. It is the number one killer in America, and 80% can be avoided. We can make an impact. We will make a difference.
It Starts With The Heart!