1,000 miles for Pulmonary Hypertension

Don Stevenson

Laurel Jessop, a student at Sumner High School, contributed to this article.

The Pacing Parson is at it again, and this time he’s walking all over the Plateau and Valley area.

Auburn resident Don Stevenson, 80, is walking 1,000 miles for pulmonary hypertension and will be trekking through Bonney Lake and Sumner in February and March.

To walk the 1,000 miles in 10 weeks, Stevenson will have to walk “a lazy” 20 to 30 miles a day, Monday through Friday, he said.

“This particular walk I am dedicating to all people who have this problem,” Stevenson explained. “That’s why I’m carrying oxygen and have a nasal canula… I carry that with me with the walker. I’m doing that the whole thousand miles.”

Pulmonary hypertension is when high blood pressure around the lungs and heart make it hard for a person to breathe.

In 2010, Washington had one of the highest rates of death by pulmonary hypertension in the country, affecting between 600 and 800 people, according to the CDC.

This isn’t the first time Stevenson has walked to raise money and awareness for the disease; he recently completed a 3,000 mile journey from Washington to the District of Colombia.

Stevenson dedicated the five month journey to Washington, D.C. to two of the senior members of the church he pastors at in Bonney Lake and a young boy who, because he had pulmonary hypertension, had a successful double lung and heart transplant.

The walk to D.C. took him east to Michigan and then south to Ohio, through West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, back to Virginia and then ending in the country’s capitol.

On the walk, Stevenson met hundreds of people who helped him along the way by donating supplies and giving him room and board.

“People were good. I found out America is not the 6 o-clock news,” Stevenson said. “It’s better than that. You really meet good people.”

The Pacing Parson has been walking to raise awareness for various diseases and causes since 1998, and has walked more than 50,000 miles since.

He started walking after he retired in 1994, using that time to write some books.

But he soon felt the need to stretch his legs, and after a couple of months, decided to walk across the country.

“But I told my wife, I said, ‘but I don’t want to do it for myself,’” he said. “’If I do it for myself, I won’t make it out of the county.’ Her father died of Alzheimer’s, so I walked for Alzheimer’s and dedicated the walk to her father that’s how I got my first start.”

His list of achievements include walking from Mexico to Anchorage, Ala. (4,500 miles) climbing to the 12,300 foot level of Mount Rainier and walking more than 100 miles blindfolded across the Cascade Mountains.

The stroller’s schedule

Stevenson plans to make his way through the Bonney Lake and Sumner area every Tuesday from February 2 to March 8.

He will also be in the Sumner, Puyallup and Graham area on March 9 and 11.

On Saturdays, he walks around the food court at the Auburn Outlet Collection (also known as the old Super Mall) from 9 to 10 a.m.

“People who have pulmonary hypertension, they can walk with me in the mall so they’re out of the weather,” Stevenson said. “And if they get too tired, I’ll wheel them on my walker.”

Donations to the Pulmonary Hypertension Association can be made at http://www.o2breathe.org/fightPH16 and by clicking Stevenson’s name.