My Story

Photo by Paul Reitano

After eight years of pondering about walking long distance, I finally decided to do it last summer. Now a new pathway has emerged in my life.

While walking some three hundred miles diagonally across Massachusetts last year, I crossed paths with people, places and history while discovering how much I enjoyed long distance walking. The quite, the serenitude, the uneven terrain under foot, all encouraged me to keep going. Each day as I clicked off more miles becoming stronger along the way, I reached a point where I enjoyed taking 5-10 mile detours off my planned route. Everyday represented increased movement in my life which was the ultimate goal.

Background

I live in Amherst, Massachusetts,  a small college town, where I attended the University of Massachusetts as a young man, in the western half of the state. I’ve lived here for 15 of the past 20 years,  enjoying the ebb and flow of marriage, the delight in raising a child, the profound grief of losing a child, and finally divorce. And after all these experiences I’ve learned one has to keep going in life because another horizon awaits over the next mountain.

Walk to Freedom came about after I discovered the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee was planning remembrance ceremonies in April to mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. I recognized the importance of this moment and I thought about how could I could contribute to this great event.

I asked myself what could I do to honor the legacy of Dr. King’s ideas? What commitment of myself could I offer the Civil Rights movement today? How could I pay homage to our ancestors who sacrificed so much for our freedom?

That’s when the idea of Walk to Freedom was born. I realized if I was going to offer a symbolic gesture to Dr. King, move the Civil Rights movement ahead by one yard, give thanks to the original Freedom Seekers, then I was going to walk to demonstrate my commitment.