A Church of the Nazarene pastor from Washington state is walking 1,400 miles from Rugby to Auburn, Wash., to raise money for research into blindness.
Rev. Don Stevenson, 76, who calls himself "The Pacing Parson," is hoping to encourage donations to the Bonney Lake Lions Fundation in Washington, which is raising money for research into a bionic eye. Bionic eyes might one day help people born blind to see shapes and colors and improve their eyesight, but it would cost about $60,000 to test a bionic eye on one person. Stevenson and his wife, Loretta Stevenson, know Nicholas Premo, a 12-year-old from Bonney Lake, Wash., who was born blind.
Stevenson is doing some of his walking blindfolded to draw awareness to the cause, though he has to line up volunteers willing to guide him through towns. On Sunday, Minot Church of the Nazarene Rev. Scott Mehlhoff guided him blindfolded for part of the way. Stevenson's wife, Loretta, also accompanies him on his trips, sometimes driving ahead and then providing water at a meeting point.
Rev. Don Stevenson, blindfolded, is walking from Rugby to Auburn, Wash., to raise money for research into blindness. He was guided Sunday by volunteer Rev. Scott Mehlhoff, a pastor at the South Minot Church of the Nazarene.
Stevenson said he loves to walk and to help others.
"God has blessed me with good health, and out of gratitude I've tried sharing that blessing with those who are less fortunate," he says in his bio. "I'm a happy, wealthy man. I don't possess much of this world's goods, but I do possess that which money cannot purchase love, joy and peace!"
Their main fundraising method is to spread the word through media contacts in the towns they travel through.
The Stevensons have been walking to raise money for various causes since 1998.
"This is one of my shorter walks," said Stevenson, whose longest walk was from Seattle to New York City for the Huntington's Disease Society of America, began in 2007 and finished in 2008. They have come through North Dakota several times over the years.
"We've met a lot of nice people along the way," said Loretta Stevenson. Many hotels are willing to let them stay for free to help their cause. They received free lodging from the Northern Lights Hotel in Rugby and the Vegas Motel in Minot this week.
Loretta Stevenson was searching for lodging in the Stanley and Ray areas for later this week, but is having some trouble because of the housing shortage in the area.
People who would like to help can reach the couple at 253-335-6902. Donations for the Bonney Lake Lions Foundation, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization, can be sent locally to Wells Fargo Bank, account no. 2553789732 "Lion Heart Walk for the Blind" or mailed to Bonney Lake Lions Foundation, 18429 89th St. E., Bonney Lake, Wash., 98391. All checks should be written out to Bonney Lake Lions Foundation, with "Blind Walk" on the check's memo line.