The Pacing Parson is at it again.
Don Stevenson, 81, has taken to the streets of King County to raise awareness and money for victims of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig disease, named after the famous baseball player.
This charity walk started Nov. 18 and he’ll be walking around Auburn, Orting, Puyallup and Sumner until Dec. 22, using a walker “to show empathy for victims of the disease,” he said.
This walk is dedicated to a member of his Bonney Lake Church of the Nazarene congregation, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s a year ago.
Stevenson is famous for his charity walks, which he started in 1998 on a 3,000 mile walk from Seattle to Portland, Maine, for Alzheimer’s awareness.
In total, he’s walked more than 67,000 miles for charity walks over the course of almost 20 years.
Next May is expected to be his last charity walk, which will be for wounded vets. Stevenson hasn’t decided what organization to team up with, but he is planning on walking 3,000 miles, possibly from Auburn to the geological center of North America, located near Rugby, North Dakota.
But when pressed, he admits he’s pronounced his charity walking career to be at an end multiple times before.
“I figure I’ll retire in heaven,” he said.
After his supposed last charity walk, Stevenson plans to focus on publishing his books, including a book of poetry and a book of his sermons.
WHAT’S LOU GEHRIG’S?
Lou Gehrig disease is not just one, but a group of neurological diseases that involve the neurons that control voluntary muscle movement in the brain.
Overtime, these neurons degenerate or die, and muscles no longer receive messages from the brain to move. It starts slowly but eventually, voluntary muscle movement becomes impossible.
It’s estimated between 14,000 to 15,000 Americans have Lou Gehrig disease, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and most people with the disease die from respiratory failure within 3 to 5 years of symptoms first appearing.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis was first discovered in 1869, but was made more famous by baseball player Henry Louis Gehrig in 1939, when he voluntarily removed himself from the New York Yankees lineup due to the disease. Gehrig died two years later.