Archive for May 7th, 2007

Notes from the Walk for Hunger

Another successful this Sunday. 43,000 people participated raising a record 3.3-million dollars for 400 emergency food programs in Massachusetts! Of course, with poverty on the rise every one of those $3.3-million and more will be needed. It’s not too late to donate, so drop by my personal walk page and make a secure online donation. Thus far my incredibly generous sponsors have contributed $2600 to Project Bread!

My Walk for Hunger Photo Gallery (all the pictures are of people I don’t know, so if your see yourself, let me know).

This year’s walk was different from previous years. Since Susan is out of town, I walked alone for the first time (if you call being among 43,000 people alone). Susan’s absence probably contributed to my sleeping through my alarm for a whole hour before I finally woke up. Starting an hour later than usual, I noticed the walk route was a lot more crowded. On the plus side there were more performers out serenading the walkers at that time than in my previous experience. Since I’ve had a bum ankle for a while, I also decided to take it slow so while I’m usually finished in the early afternoon, this time I pretty much took the entire day to walk. It’s actually a good idea, because in years’ past my legs felt near-crippled after the walk (especially the day after the walk), but this year I felt no more than an ordinary soreness.

I arrived at Boston Common around 8 am and checked in at the Heart & Sole tent. The volunteers are always wonderfully cheerful and they had Dunkin Donuts and coffee to get me started. The city is doing some restoration work on the Common so all the tents were in different locations this year and it was a bit disorienting. I passed under the start line at 8:15 and I was on my way. The weather was good for walking if a bit on the chilly side, especially when the clouds covered the sun. When the sun was out it warmed up considerably but I never took my jacket off the entire walk, which is unusual for a radiator of heat like myself.

At Kenmore Square, I looked behind me to check out a passing fire truck and there was Brian of Baptized Pagan fame. We walked together for a bit and he told me he had to be in Worcester by 4:30 pm. As noted above, I was taking it slow so I let Brian go ahead and didn’t see him again for the rest of the walk. Further along Beacon Street, a blond, burly guy in a volunteer shirt called out “Hey Liam!” I had no idea who it was, but it turned out to be another Brian with whom I went to high school! I also went to college with Brian’s older brother Rob, and I don’t think I’ve seen Brian in 10 years since Rob’s wedding. He looked so different, but apparently I don’t since he recognized me right away. I met his wife a bit further down the street.

If one demographic dominates the Walk for Hunger, it appears to be teenage girls, although I don’t have statistics to back this up. A lot of the Walk for Hunger promotional material features photos of teenage girls which begs the question: do the ads feature teenage girls because they participate in the walk in great numbers or are teenage girls drawn to the walk in great numbers because of ads targeting them. Anyhow, it was sweet to see girls walking with their arms linked together, something that has retro-Victorian feel. I don’t remember girls walking arm-in-arm when I was in high school. I think they would have been mocked if they had so things are better these days.

I like the Walk for Hunger because it’s such a community event. Volunteers cheer through megaphones, passing cars bleep their horns merrily, kids set up lemonade stands on the route, and everyone is supportive and having fun. Each walker wears a sticker with their number of walks on them, and I’m always impressed by the people who’ve walked 20-30 times. In fact, I saw a lot of people under 20 years old who wore stickers saying this is my 15th walk! It also makes me a little sad. I like to think that I’ll participate in the walk for as long as I can, but on the other hand, the world would be much better if we could finally eliminate the reasons why we walk.

My ankle felt sore from the start, but oddly felt better the more I walked. I took lots of long breaks, especially along the Charles which was just glorious on this day. The strategy seemed to work as I felt pretty good on the home stretch. At around 4 pm I reached the finish line on Boston Common. It was a bit anti-climactic as I didn’t see a place to get my card marked for the final checkpoint, but I did get ice cream, so all was well. I walked over to the Parkman Bandstand and lay in the sun while a reggae band played. I think I may have nodded off a bit. After that I took the T back home, feeling refreshed and happy.

Overheard on the Walk for Hunger

  • Child, as we approac the Mass Av underpass: “When we get in that tunnel, I’m going to scream my lungs out!” (surprisingly she actually did not).
  • At mile 19.5:
    • Woman #1: “This is why they only have the walk once a year.”
    • Woman #2: “How’s that?”
    • Woman #1: “Because you forget how annoying it gets at this point.”
    • Woman #2: “Yeah, just like labor.”

Five Pictures I Wish I’d Taken on the Walk for Hunger

  • Even though it’s prohibited, a lot of people bring their dogs on the walk which I think is a bit hard on the poor pooches’ paws. But one woman had a small dog in a sling across her chest. The dog wore a custom made Walk for Hunger hat and t-shirt.
  • One picture of each of the Brians I met.
  • More pictures of the great volunteers, especially the great people who staff the checkpoints.
  • A sultry chanteuse crooning jazz in front off a restaurant, although another walker captured this pic.

News and Blogs Coverage

  • Boston Globe – “You’re not supposed to be hungry in America,” Crofton said.
  • Boston Globe – “The Walk for Hunger supports a cause that is near and dear to me,” she said. “I can’t bear the thought of children going to bed hungry. Food should be a given.
  • Boston Herald – “It feeds thousands and thousands and thousands of people,” said Ellen Parker, executive director of Project Bread. “It’s an opportunity for everyone in Massachusetts to come out . . . and revive our connections to one another.”
  • Boston Herald – “Kids want to give back,” Rebecca said. “You don’t hear about that a lot. You don’t read about it too much in the paper, but it’s true. They want to make a difference. People need our support and our energy. Besides, it’s fun to do something for other people you may not even know.”
  • Soft Happiness – I can’t read this blog but it has some great photos.
  • Donna’s colorful world – A ton of photo’s from the walk.
  • Cody and Meredith – more folks on the walk.
  • Freshly Brewed – “It would be faster to tell you what doesn’t hurt, like…my eyelashes. Yes, I can safely say that my eyelashes feel smashing.”
  • azulunar – “Since I had already reached the 8th point, which was also about 15 miles, I was like……why not? It’s just 5 more miles. Why stop now? When the goal was close.”
  • johnsmind – “Why are people so cheap when it comes to helping others???”
  • Quite Quite Fantastic! – “I hope my friends didn’t mind a little spam from me, as it was for a good cause.”
  • Allogenes – “The Walk is bigger than the Walkers. It has a life all its own. We may walk the Walk, but at the same time the Walk is carrying us.”
  • don’t eat alone – “The seemingly endless train of people was as diverse as their fashion senses. We saw girls walking arm in arm, sharing the headphones on a single iPod, groups from both urban and suburban schools and churches, parents pushing strollers, families marking a tradition together, and some folks just walking by themselves for the cause.”
  • imagined-community – “Today was lovely; I even got sunburned. Spent the afternoon cheering on the walkers for Project Bread’s 39th Walk for Hunger.”
  • # Open # Happy @_^ Micky *_~ Spaces – Another nice photo album on a page written in a language I cannot read.

So that’s it for this year. Hope to take the whole family out on the walk next year! And you can join me too!

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