It's taken 14 days, but Gary Walters' scrapes and bruises are slowly disappearing.
For 700 miles Walters and his 15-year-old son Jackson have been traveling across half the country on Rollerblades, from Baxter to Washington, D.C., for Walters' annual challenge to raise awareness and money for Kinship Partners, the nonprofit organization that matches adult mentors with children.
Gary (the fellow with the banged-up knees) and Jackson Walters stopped at a road sign that has summed up their Rollerblading trip from Baxter to Washington, D.C. Walters is in-line skating to Washington, D.C., as part of his annual challenge to raise awareness, money and mentors for Kinship Partners. As of Thursday, he had made it as far as Ohio.
It's been a rough but fun go for Walters, who along with Jackson is joined on the trip by daughter Jessica on bike and wife Lisa in a sport-utility vehicle. This is their family vacation for this year. He said if you asked his business partner, it would be his vacation for this summer, this winter and next summer.
He and Jackson skate for seven to eight hours a day, averaging 40-50 miles a day, less than he had originally hoped for. Poor road conditions, lack of trails, steep hills and no road shoulders have all combined to make this the most difficult Kinship challenge to date, Walters said.
Where in the world is Gary?
In his latest adventure to raise funds for Kinship Partners, Gary Walters and his son, Jackson, are Rollerblading to Washington, D.C.
Check out his progress through Wednesday: A plan to end the day early was foiled by good in-line skating conditions across Ohio.
Miles traveled: 57 miles.
Total miles traveled: 677 miles.
Total funds raised: $8,516.
Daily destination reached: West of Columbus Grove, Ohio.
Mile musings: "For those of you pledging for each biff, we had 500 of them today. Well, not fully impacting the ground, but at least 1,000 times I still loose my balance, my arms flail in the wind to regain my balance and I am sure I look goofy to any car that is in the area. So, these are sort of a 12 or maybe a 14 biff. I will start keeping track to get the biff total up."
For more information or to donate, contact Kinship Partners at kinshippartners.org or 829-4606.
On the bright side, he has not crashed since leaving Minnesota and the weather, for the most part, has cooperated.
"I'm getting better," Walters said. "I don't try to go backward, my stopping has improved dramatically and I don't feel like I'm going to fall down all the time. I feel reasonably confident going straight.
"It's been much harder that we thought, or at least I thought. Physically it's been hard but emotionally it's been good. It's fun doing this with my wife and kids."
On Thursday the Walters were in northern Ohio, about half the way on his journey to the nation's capital. He plans to take Friday or Saturday off in Canton, Ohio, and visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame before tackling Pennsylvania's hills and mountains.
He said his legs and back are getting used to the grind of Rollerblading. What he's not getting used to is how sore his feet are in the mornings.
"My biggest issue is my feet feel numb, tingly," Walters said. "It's taking longer to get to where I feel like I could go longer."
He still expects to complete his challenge on Sept. 9, when he arrives on the Capitol steps. Whatever pain he endures is worth it if it brings notice to Kinship Partners. Walters and his family have been interviewed by a dozen media outlets in several states during his trip.
"It's hard and I want people to open their wallets and purses and give to Kinship Partners," he said. "That's the whole reason for this. I'm just a bit piece."
He's been performing such publicity stunts to raise awareness for Kinship Partners since 2003, when he biked from Baxter to New Orleans. In 2004, he camped out for more than a week on top of Brainerd's historic water tower. In 2005, he walked the length of Minnesota in 17 days. In 2006, he swam across Lake Mille Lacs. In 2007, he lost 100 pounds in a year. In 2008, he unicycled around the track at Adamson Field in Brainerd.
Would he ever try the Rollerblading challenge again?
"No. Not a snowball's chance," he quickly replied. "I'm surprised at how much more difficult it is that I thought it would be."
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.