Sunday, September 7, 2014

  It was a week ago that I walked the final 12 miles in from Forest Lake.  Paul Mueller from Education Minnesota and Lisa O'Neill, head of the Letter Carriers in the State, started those final miles with me and it was a privilege to share their company.  Paul had another engagement but Lisa walked 7 miles and we shared the memories of my endeavor.  It was great to share with those that have such an important position in life and a responsibility towards so many.  And then it became even better as Mike joined me down the road.  I hadn't seen Mike in years but we used to work together and again shared in memories.  
  I finished the 12 miles as I'd walked so many in the past days, alone.  But seeing my beautiful wife there to greet me was all I needed.  I did what I'd set out to do.  Walk 300 miles to benefit those in our community that are having a hard time feeding themselves and their families.  As in the past, I succeeded with an effort that took 2 years to organize.  And as I reflected, there were things that should have been done, things that could have been done, but that's not important.  I've learned so much that will hopefully help me in the future, to do a better job!
  Now it's time to ask all of those that have "resolved" to support the Minnesota Miracle, to step forward and honor that resolution.  I'm being afforded the opportunity to speak to thousands at the end of September and more in October.  So I'm far from being done with this effort.  Though my goal was never reached, each and every one that donated can be assured that their funds will never be touched!  Only the interest of the Minnesota Miracle Ending Hunger Fund endowment will be used.  I keep my promises!  It's still up to Minnesotans to establish how well we can help those in need.
  I'll thank all that have become part of the Minnesota Miracle both now and when the effort has been completed.  The list of those individuals and groups is pretty large so it may have to wait for the book I hope to write when I get old!  62 and smiling!  Thank you very much!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

  I'm so close to home and haven't taken the time to write a blog, and apologize if I must.  12 days from ending a journey that's been long in coming.  And I'm so grateful to all that have made these past days so memorable.  As I walk the road, constantly hoping to see wildlife, and sometimes the wife down the road with refreshments, it gives me such a calm and allowabity to just reflect and see all the goodness in life.  There are so many people that have such large hearts filled with compassion and a tenderness making all feel at home.  
  I've found some disappointment but my expectations are to blame.  It's the first time I've chosen to put a financial aspect with the journey I've created and it's hard to compete with so many needs around us.  I have to applaud so many out there working hard for whatever cause they support.
But I have to say  I still like the way I put things out there.  For every 5000 times my feet hit the concrete, I'd like someone to donate a penny.  And I'll end with that.  Please keep in mind that it's up to Minnesotans to create the "miracle"!  We'll have to wait to see how many it affects!

Friday, August 8, 2014

  Well I'm back after 4 days of nothing.  It's not that I didn't have anything to say but I was a little weary at the end of each day.  I sometimes thought about the "why" while walking the 11 miles a day, and questioned my thinking on the whole endeavor, but then I just looked around at the beauty of nature, and the questions dissappeared.  And I never questioned how my age might be a factor?  Something else that nature's beauty put to ease!

  Something I am questioning at this point of the walk is this.  After spending over a year speaking to the Union leaders throughout the state, why haven't more come on board with donations?  I know  that the State leaders sent out a letter acknowledging their support to nearly 1000 Unions across the state and yet I've only seen donations from less than 50?  For those that have shown their support with donations, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I ask that you reach out to those that haven't and ask that they come on board.

  I'm doing my very best to give my brothers and sisters across the state, recognition for their strength and solidarty, carrying myself proudly, and hiding the pain of the daily walk.  I only ask for a penny a mile in return.

Even though this started with my union brothers and sisters, it will take EVERYONE in the state joining in with donations and support to raise the monies needed to create our perpetual fountain of food.  So, PLEASE, spread the word to churches, schools, civic groups, your friends, neighbors and families and consider donating to help end hunger.  If everyone gives just a few cents a mile, our goal can be reached! 
  I have to take time to thank my loving wife Joan!  Once again, I couldn't have taken on this cause without her by my side.  She waits patiently as I walk, updates the facebook page, and is my constant consolation at the end of each day.  So it's true that behind every good man is a great woman!!!!!!

still a long walk home,

Monday, August 4, 2014

Day 3

Yes, I know it's a boring title...I'll try and come up with something better for tomorrow!
Anyway, another day's walk is done and Gary's taking a nap.  We ended up buying him new tennis shoes last night and his feet were much happier today!  Funny how that works---his original shoes were VERY expensive, fancy shoes and the new ones were about twenty bucks.  

It was a bright, sunny day out there with a nice breeze, and Gary covered 11 miles for a total of 34 so far.  I think he's doing very well and hopefully getting used to the routine of the walk each day.  We're definitely sleeping well under the stars and cool.

Some of my friends from Ashland Productions (a community theater group I work with) met up with us at the giant walleye at the entrance to Kabetogama Lake area and we chatted with them a bit.  So nice to see friendly faces so far from home---thanks Jill, Maria and CeCe!!  

Not much else.  THANK YOU to all that have donated so far and all that are following on our Facebook page at Minnesota Miracle 2014 as well.  PLEASE help spread the word and if anyone has any media contacts they can hook us up with that would be great.  We want everyone to have the opportunity to donate and to be a part of ending hunger in Minnesota!!!

Still a long walk home,

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Day Two:

Done and sore--- I had a little trouble keeping up the 3 miles an hour today.  Fell about 15 minutes short of the pace.   But I managed complete the day with 11 miles off the 300 for a total of 23 miles walked these first two days!

I asked the wife to do the blog yesterday, but forgot to remind her to thank Mike Holden and everyone that helped send us off from International Falls---a HUGE thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Now it's time to relax and get a foot massage so that I'm ready to take on the day 3.

It's a long walk home,

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Walk Has Begun!!

After two years of planning, today the walk started.  We got to Kabetogama Lake and the Arrowhead Resort yesterday---what a beautiful setting!  We relaxed and got ready.

This morning we met at the Bob Walls Memorial Union Hall in downtown International Falls.  Mike Holden drove Gary and I around so that we could see Rainy Lake from several vantage points---a lot of water!
Then back to the union hall for our send-off.  We had a great bunch of people to send us on our way.  Too many to name, but nurses, teachers, the volleyball team, city workers, children big and small.  Gary and Mike led the parade to the edge of town.  Everyone walked those first couple of miles.  Then it was just Gary.

The way we are working this is that we will have a "home base" for several days in five different spots along the route.  Today Gary walked from International Falls to 10 miles south of it.  We painted a mark on the shoulder (sorry if that's illegal!), drove back to our campsite.  Tomorrow we will begin at the mark and walk 10 more miles, make another mark, etc.  So we know exactly where we've left off to begin there the next day.

We are at Lake Kabetogama until 8/6.  Then we bring the camper with us and will go down to Eveleth where we'll be based for 10 days until the 16th.  So for half of those days we will be heading north to walk each day and the other half we'll be heading south.

Please pass the word!  You can donate from the website, or mail a check.  Also, check out our Facebook page Minnesota Miracle 2014---I will be posting pictures there as I can.

The adventure has begun!!  Gary has his first 12 miles under his feet and hopefully his body won't be too unhappy in the morning.

with hope in our hearts,
Joan and Gary

Saturday, July 19, 2014

  It's been a couple of exciting weeks.  Joan and I drove to International Falls earlier this month and I made a return trip last week.  Mike Holden had a meeting with his Union leaders and I was part of what's coming in August.  I left with a solid belief that the people in town will surely send me off on the 300 mile walk with more than a smile.  I also met with Emily Gedde with the "Journal" newspaper.  She assured me that they'll do all possible to take the beginning of the Minnesota Miracle into the eyes of the public.
  Prior to heading to International Falls I met with two great individuals in Duluth.  Scott Dulas and Larry Sillanpa.  Scott is the President of Branch 114 with the Letter Carriers and Larry is the Editor for "Labor World"!  Turns out that the letter carriers have their annual picnic scheduled for August 17, the day I walk through Duluth.  So they're joining me for part of the walk along with members of other Unions that day!  It should be both a day to remember and one that will be beneficial to the fundraising goal.  It also marks the half-way point of my miles walked.  Either I'll have found a physical strength to carry me through to the end or have to use the goodness in the hearts of all I've met!  Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

    There's only weeks left before the walk begins.  I'm getting anxious to begin this journey for a number of reasons.  Over the past 2 years I've had the privilege of meeting so many great individuals that share the concern about hunger in Minnesota and how it should not exist!  And having so many come to the plate with their support and donations makes me proud!
  There are a few things that concern the wife and myself in regards to the first week on the road.  Where to find a place to end our day with a plug in for our accommodations.  I'm hoping that Mike will have some information when I travel to International Falls one more time prior to the walk beginning.  And making contacts with the local media as we take on each day.  But all these questions will find answers as we get closer to August 2nd.
  I want to take this opportunity to thank those Unions that have responded to the letter sent out by the State AFL-CIO.  The United Steel Workers, Electrical Workers, Boilermakers, Communications Workers and all stepping up to show a strength and solidarity.  You make me proud!  
  I've approached the local radio and television here in the Twin Cities and gotten a response from some but await all to join in this effort.  We hear so many things through the media as our daily lives move forward. Wouldn't it be great to hear about how all Minnesotans came together, joined hearts, and eliminated hunger here at home?
  For all that have supported my effort thus far, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I promise to represent the goodness in each and every one of you as I walk those 300 miles!  And for anyone that has a question about their donation I have one answer.  Your donation will never be spent but remain in the Minnesota Miracle Ending Hunger Fund eternally.  Only the interest of those funds will be used to help the food shelves throughout the State of Minnesota.  The nest has been laid and holds the funds already donated.  Please help us make this effort one that will exemplify what can be done when we stand together with a common cause!!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

  I had a busy week and need to comment on things.  I did speak to the Labor Assembly in Duluth last Thursday evening.  Dan O'Neill allowed me the minutes to update those in attendance but it wasn't enough time to get all the information to those present.  I wasn't able to ask if the Trade and Labor in Duluth, wanted to join me on August 17 when I walk through their town?  I truly believe that something great could be coordinated to benefit the hungry there.  But it's not in my hands.  I'm just the man walking the 300 miles and doing what he can to ask common Minnesotans to help end hunger here at home.  
  I made some great contacts on the way up to Duluth.  Holly in Pine City, Lynda in Stacy, Sam in Sandstone and Mark in Hinckley.  All were so receptive to what I'm doing and offered their support in any way possible.  I just love the compassion I find in small town Minnesota.  Just down to earth people with hearts larger than life!  I did not make a second trip to International Falls but will in July to speak to the Labor Assembly where the trek will begin.  On a final note, the Saint Paul City Council passed a "resolution" of support for the Minnesota Miracle.  I put their resolution on the "newsrelease" page on the home page.
  In ending this blog I'd like to thank all of those I've met in the past couple of weeks.  You make me feel that I'm not alone in fighting the hunger that exists here at home and make me feel like part of a huge family that cares about everyone!  And that's part of what makes life worth living and makes me proud to be a Minnesotan!!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

  I apologize for the month without an update but I had been waiting for direction that never came.
And now there's been a small setback that I'll comment on when all has been said and done!  I have found strength with my Union that helped me put the hopes and dreams on the Atlantis shuttle 7 years ago and we're moving forward.  Once again I have Branch 28 of the Letter Carriers coming on board with more than just a donation.  They're helping with the final coordination of my effort to end hunger here at home.
  Joan and I made a road trip this past week and although rain was heavy, the individuals we met between Duluth and International Falls offered a blanket of support for the effort being put forth.
We found overwhelming support in Eveleth and Virginia with those we met and spoke with.  Steve with the Steel workers, Ginger who's been feeding her community for 30 years, and so many more.
All that have promised to help get the word out that we'll be walking through their communities in August and hope they'll join us in our effort to end hunger.
  We did find towns that map quest had us believing existed and don't or didn't have markers to acknowledge them, but we mapped out the distances for each day.  We still have to find a place to spend the nights for the first week, we may have to drive some distance to find them. Or I'll find some folks that will allow us to plug in at their homes.  Time will tell.  When we reached International Falls we were met by Mike, my man that's retiring in September, and knows everyone in town.  He brought us over to meet the Mayor and part of his crew and will be helping in creating the send off on August 2nd.  There's so many great individuals there that share the concern when it comes to hunger and eliminating it.  
  I do have a busy week ahead.  The City of Saint Paul is passing a resolution of support on Wednesday, then I'm speaking to the Labor Assembly in Duluth on Thursday, and the Labor Assembly in International Falls on Friday.  I'll come back with information on those meetings next week.  Before I end this blog I have to thank Coats RV in Forest Lake.  Sally the owner and her main man Dan have offered to lend us a vehicle for the trip!  This is huge!  We now don't have to worry about where we'll be sleeping.  They've taken that burden off my mind and I thank them from the bottom of my heart. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

  I had hoped to present the Minnesota Miracle at the Machinist Convention this weekend but they couldn't find room on their agenda.  I did make some good connections with both the Sheriffs office for Washington County and the Minnesota State Patrol.  I'm informing all of the municipalities about my walk through their counties and finding out about possible permits that may be necessary.  From what I'm been told, a permit wouldn't be necessary unless a large amount of people would be walking with me.  So I'm asking anyone that is looking ahead to August and wants to join me somewhere along the 300 miles, to please let me know.  Everyone is welcomed but I don't want anyone to be at risk.  If it turns out that we have a large number joining in the walk at any point, I want to protect them!
  The weather is changing and we're all grateful for it finally happening!  It's been a long winter that will surely go into the record books.  I'm now starting to actually walk more than a mile here and there.  Just couldn't do it when the temperatures were so far below zero. Now it's such a delight to breathe in the fresh air and start to strengthen the legs again.  Though I walked 12 miles every day while delivering mail for the Post Office around Como Lake, it's been a year since I retired and I do feel a little discomfort now.  But I'll be ready to go with a smile on my face and a cause that everyone understands.  Doing our best to end hunger in Minnesota!  

  I'd also like to throw out a request.  If anyone following the developement of the Minnesota Miracle, has any input or suggestions, please send them my way.  If there's an opportunity to speak to any organization or group that shares my conern or could help in any way, I'd like to hear from or your organization.  The next 4 months will fly by and the 30 day walk will begin.  So please join me if you can with either suggestions, comments, or guidance of any kind.  I'm now that little man drawing social security that still wants to make a difference!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

  I've decided to change colors with today's comments for a couple of reasons.  During the past days I've begun to speak with the counties that I'll be walking through this August.  But it's not the counties that have impressed me, it's the personalities of those individuals in charge.  They've made me feel like family with the same concern.  Making sure all Minnesotans don't feel hunger!  I now have a list of all of the towns I'll be walking through, the miles in between them, and their locations.  I'll have it on my web site shortly.
  Another huge step is coming on Friday!  I've raised enough in donations to create the "donor advisory fund" with the St. Paul Foundation and a meeting with the professionals is about to take place.  We will now start the "Perpetual Fountain of Food"!  And I ask all to remember that the donations being made are responsible for the flow of that fountain and I hope that it surpasses what we're going to see with the rising tempertures this spring!  It's been a hard winter for us all but the residents of Minnesota know how to handle anything thrown our way!  We're some of the toughest people on the face of the earth!  And don't you forget it!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

  Another meeting is scheduled for this Friday, the 28th of February which will include all of those from the AFL-CIO and 2 guests.  Hopefully they'll accept my determination on who will benefit from the funds raised with the Minnesota Miracle.  The Food Shelves throughout Minnesota.
  I'd like to take some moments to reflect on another purpose behind my effort.  And I thank God that I've been reminded by the children, that this journey has more implications than just raising money!  I received a letter from the teacher of a 6th grade class in International Falls, asking if they could be a part of the first day of the 300 mile journey.  It's not the only one I've received from those that wish to become involved but I'd like to share a sentence from this one.  This teacher writes: Throughout the year my 6th grade class has been working in the community doing some service learning.  Your trip and cause would be a great opportunity to take our service project to a larger scale and I feel it would be very empowering for my students.  I'm wondering  how you envision our role in your project?  Let me know and I'll line things up on my end!  Thank you.
  For the past few months I've been involved in the business behind my effort and learning about all that's necessary for a task so large.  One of my fine friends said something, that although I didn't want to hear, is part of life.  If it was that easy, everyone would be doing it!  But my heart was touched by that 6th grade teacher and her students.  They reminded me about another part of this endeavor that's so important.  Minnesotans coming together and putting forth their finest effort to join hands with a common cause!  It's not so much about whether we'll reach our fundraising goal, that's in the hands of those that can afford to give, but to show all involved what can be accomplished when we work together.  Thanks kids for keeping me on track!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

  A huge change has been made for the Minnesota Miracle.  On February 17th I was met by 12 individuals that want to lend their assistance in making the miracle a reality for all of those feeling hunger in Minnesota.  They're calling themselves an "advisory committee" but in my mind, they're a God send!  At the meeting we discussed necessary steps that have to be taken to ensure a success as well as those that have to made to protect all that become involved.  You see I'm merely a man with the desire to serve my community and give back for the blessings in my life.  It takes so much more to coordinate the effort I've begun than I'd imagined.  But I'm back in school with some of the finest teachers I could ask for.  Those people that know how to handle something of this dimension that have both the professional skills and the compassion I needed to come on board and help guide me.
  The biggest change that has been decided on was the dates of the walk.  And all participants agreed on the change.  Now we have 5 months instead of 2 before I begin the 300 mile walk.  The time necessary to arrange so many things.  I've already received emails from some of the schools along the choosen route to involve their children and towns.  The route for my walk hasn't changed so solidity remains on the pathway.  I'll begin on August 2nd and end at the State Fair grounds on Labor Day.  And what better way to show working Minnesota coming together to end hunger on that day!
  We've also created a facebook page that can be seen either through Minnesota Miracle 2014 or by coming to the web site and directed accordingly.  I'd like to impress on all that are following this effort that I'm not looking for the number of hits the facebook page gets.  I'm asking everyone that views it on facebook or my web site, to make a donation. If you do it through Second Harvest Heartland on-line you can print out your tax deductable statement at the same time.  If you choose to write a check and send it to Minnesota Miracle 175 Aurora St. Paul, Minnesota 55103 your canceled check will serve as well.
  I'll end this blog asking everyone to help your neighbors with the white blanket that's about to cover most of Minnesota!  Especially the elderly that don't have the strength they used to.  We call need to help one another!!!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

  Back again with some great news about things happening.  Where to start?  I've got a meeting this Thursday with a planning committee provided by the St. Paul and Minneapolis Unions.  We hope to arrange the plan to reach all of the 385,000 Union members in Minnesota.  And next week I sit down with Second Harvest Heartland who partnered with the effort almost a year ago.  Because they'll be one of the main organizations that will receive part of the interest on the endowment, it's time to talk about their involement.  They have set up the ability for individuals to donate on-line and 100% of those donations go directly towards the Minnesota Miracle.
  After searching for help putting together a face book page, it's finally started.  If you go to minnesotamiracle2014 you can view the face book page.  I'm asking everyone to share it with all you know to help spred the word on what's coming.  The media is going to play a huge part of whether we find a total success with this effort.  I'm asking everyone to consider a pennie, dime, or more to donate to the Minnesota Miracle.  You can also pledge per mile and the form to do just that is also on the web site now.
  I traveled to Coates RV a couple of weeks ago, searching for a vehicle to pull behind my car for those 30 days of walking.  My wife and I need a place to lay our heads at the end of each day.  I spoke with Dan Mouch and he's looking to find something to meet the need.  I'm down to making the actual arrangements for the trip itself.
  It's not too early to print out a pledge form from the web site and ask your friends, family, and co-workers to make their pledge.  A pennie a mile is only $3.00.  My old co-workers are giving .10!
We've less than 3 months before the final walk in from White Bear Lake on May 4, 2014.  Please help me bring all of Minnesota on board to set an example of how we take care of our own!

Friday, January 17, 2014

  We're now into January which only leaves 3 months before the walk begins.  I've met with the President of the St. Paul Unions and he's attempting to create a steering committee to lend assistance in reaching out to Minnesotans.  We had a meeting scheduled yesterday the 16th but something kept that from happening.  It's been rescheduled for Febuary 13.  I was a bit uncomfortable with the news about concellation of yesterdays meeting but realize that the Minnesota Miracle is one of many efforts the AFL-CIO deals with on a regular basis.  I've been asked to put together a list of what I need from the committee being created.  I've known for the past year of the needs to make this effort a success so will have no problem presenting it when the time comes.
  Yesterday I traveled to the Minneapolis Council of Churches and spoke with a few individuals.  I was told that they were not in a position to donate and I clarified that I wasn't looking for their donation but rather an involvement with the Minnesota Miracle.  All of the churches throughout the state work constantly to provide for those within their parishes and I applaud that effort.  I'm merely hoping to make a connection along the route I'll be walking and if I can be used as a vehicle to help their effort in any way, wanted to offer myself.
  I do have a meeting scheduled for Tuesday with a the retirees President who's offered his assistance in reaching out to all Union retirees.  These are the men and women that have created the strength and solidarity that exists today.  
  I'm also hoping to hear back from those I've spoken with at St. Thomas University.  These are the business students that I hope can lend a hand with creating a "marketing campaign" to assist
us with media and other things necessary to bring the Minnesota Miracle into the homes of everyone that shares the concern for those less fortunate.  They also believe that there's no reason that anyone in Minnesota should go hungry!
  The wife and I have been discussing about the actual walk and how to accommodate her abscense
at times.  She still works hard with her students at school and those that depend on her piano skills
in productions that are ongoing.  There are times when she'll have to leave me to drive back to the cities where she's responsible for many things.  So there's still many pieces that we're working on.
If there's anyone keeping track of the blogs I'm posting that could provide a home or just a plug for the camper we'll be hauling, let me know.  It would be appreciated.  I'll come on again soon with news about what's happening in the days to come!