Last New Year's Eve, when Spencer West asked me if I wanted to walk with him across Alberta that coming spring, I was immediately into the idea. I was eager to hear more about the walk and its purpose. After months of planning and preparation, that walk finally began last Monday.
When I flew to Edmonton to participate, I missed the kick-off event so I met up with the group right at kilometre one, just in time to start. I was excited and nervous all at once as I pulled up to the big Winnebago with Spencer's face on it. I literally threw on my sneakers, and caught up with the group to start walking!
It was awesome to see Mama Leah and Mama Monica again after over a year apart (the last time I saw them was in Kenya). We had plenty of stories and updates to share about our families and lives. The ladies re-assured me that my choice of wearing a special shuka I received at Kisaruni was a good one for the day. It was -- it was bright red, and kept the group motivated on our walk as it blew in the wind. It also symbolized solidarity -- Spencer had his Maasai shuka draped over the cushion on his wheelchair for the same purpose. I also caught up with Robin W. And Craig during the walk, it was so great that they could be there too!
Eventually, Craig, Robyn and the mamas had to leave to travel to other engagements. So, I travelled onward with Spencer, David, Alex, Karl, Munro, Aislinn and the rest of the gang.
We spent the next eight hours laughing, singing, stretching, walking, running, gazing at the beautiful Alberta skyline and marveling at the kindness of strangers. Big trucks were passing us on the road and honking in support, pulling U-turns to hand us donations. Children were racing up to us on their bicycles to get a picture with Spencer and exchange some words of encouragement.
More than anything, what I will remember is the way we motivated each other to carry on to that last 30th kilometre. I also will not forget singing with Spencer. Spencer is one of those people one is just lucky to know. He and I sang Patsy Cline while walking down the highway -- I never knew what a great singer he was.
We saw some beautiful animals along the way; frogs, birds and even a very special three-legged dog with perfect timing.
Lots of laughs and stories later, we arrived at our destination. For Spencer, Alex, and David it was only the beginning of what will be a challenging 10 day journey. We hugged each other and high-fived. Poor Munro had to get on a red-eye right afterwards!
We then arrived at our pasta dinner (anything else would not have satisfied our post-walk hunger and exhaustion) with our hearts fuller and our smiles wider.
I left Edmonton the next morning full of new inspiration and feelings of elation. The act of walking forward is a truly life-affirming motion. In life, we are always moving forward in some way, whether through space, time or in growth.
The way we travel forward defines us.
If we travel with positivity, pace, good humour and graciousness, we always arrive in the right place.
Thanks, friends, for the unforgettable walk with Spence.