Checking in from Pomona, CA …
Continuing on the historic route of old Route 66, I have passed endless small towns that run into one another and make up part of the greater Los Angeles area—San Bernardino, Rialto, Fontana, Rancho Cucamongo, Upland, Claremont, La Verne, Pomona, San Dimas, Glendora, Azusa, Duarte, Monrovia, Arcadia, East Pasadena and Pasadena so far. Each town has its own character–some upscale, some downscale, some attractive, some not, some well maintained, some not—but all are interesting as part of the mosaic that our journey has revealed.
As many of you have seen from our photos, I walk with a bright orange or yellow vest (provided by our friend Jo Ann Stockwell) for safety and to promote my walk with the emblazoned message “Walking Across the USA.” The vests have often been our best promotional tool, causing many passersby to stop me and ask about my journey and wish me well. The message doesn’t get through to everyone, however. On many occasions and three times in the last two days, people have stopped me to ask directions. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d assume that someone walking across the country probably is not a local boy.
While walking through San Dimas and Glendora, I got a couple of e-mail messages from a guy who had been following my journey via our website and had passed me earlier in the day while taking his daughter to school. Dan Crowther was very interested in my trip, said I had inspired him and wanted to meet me. He tracked me down near the end of my walk and shared his story with me. Dan’s father, Tim, was a Glendora policeman who worked with the youth of the area. In 1996 at age 48, Tim died suddenly of a heart attack. He was so beloved in the community that a new teen and youth center was named after him. Tim’s family was obviously crushed by his passing, but Dan took the loss to heart. He took up an active exercise program, and with his wife Janna, has now run five marathons and is training for a sixth while raising funds to help fight cystic fibrosis.
I was impressed by Dan’s positive reaction to a tragic loss and his dedication to exercise to help overcome obvious genetic heart disease risk. I also could not help noting that I was 48 years old in 1996, had suffered a heart attack but had been blessed to have survived. Tim Crowther had obviously touched many lives and had left a wonderful legacy. My trek suddenly seemed a little less significant. While Dan felt that I had inspired him, I was instead the one who was moved and inspired. After my walk, Brenda and I visited the Tim Crowther Teen and Family Center and felt privileged to be there. Dan had also given me a gift that I will wear proudly on the rest of walk and even afterward—a small pin replica of Tim Crowder’s police badge. Thank you Dan and thanks to the memory of your father, for putting my efforts in perspective and for inspiring me to continue to spread the word about improving cardiovascular health.
I passed some landmarks on my latest walk. The Santa Anita Park in Arcadia is the most famous horseracing track in the west and is home to both the Santa Anita Derby and the California Derby. Winners of these races usually go on as three year olds to run in the Triple Crown races. The Rose Bowl in Pasadena is a shrine to football fiends like me. It’s the “Granddaddy of ‘Em All,” the first and still most important bowl game. We also rode by the Tournament of Roses Parade Headquarters which is housed in the former mansion home of William Wrigley, the chewing gum tycoon. Brenda and I had been fortunate to have helped decorate a Rose Bowl Parade float some years ago and loved the experience. We hope to participate again in a year or two.
At the end of my walk in Pasadena, Brenda and I were met by old friends. Lillian and Dennis Mah are the parents of our daughter-in-law Debbie, and Helen Wong is Debbie’s aunt. We have stayed in touch with these folks since our son Jeff’s marriage to Debbie some thirteen years ago and have always enjoyed visiting with them. They plan to walk with me some as we pass near their home in Eagle Rock and will be with us at the end of the walk to celebrate. We enjoyed a very nice lunch with Lillian, Dennis and Helen and had fun sharing stories of our trip.
I have just three days of walking left on this journey. To accommodate the LA media, I will take a few days off and walk from Pasadena through Glendale and on to Beverly Hills early next week. Then friends and family will join me as I walk the final leg to the Santa Monica Pier on Sunday, September 2. Brenda and I will play tourist in the days in between. If we see anything interesting, we’ll continue to share the descriptions and photos with you on our website and on Facebook.