Hi. I’m Walking Bob, and the past two weekends found me walking for causes, the exact thing that got me into walking in the first place. In recent years I’ve completed many MS Walks to raise money to fight Multiple Sclerosis in support of and then in honor of our friend, Sharon Knight. I have also done walks to raise funds for breast cancer research, although there I think of it more like taking an umbrella to avoid letting it rain as I pray that they’ll keep improving detection and treatments so my wife, daughters and granddaughters never have to face that battle.
My first walk, back in 1970, was in what was the biggest protest march in the history of Riverside, California. As I marched in opposition to the war in Vietnam, I saw a high school friend in uniform standing in his front yard. I left the march to talk with him to make clear that I was marching against the war and not against those fighting it. He angrily said it didn’t seem that way just as one of the marchers called him a “baby killer”. I was speechless. My friend told me in no uncertain terms to get off his lawn, and I could only say I was sorry and walk away. I remained opposed to that war, but could never again march amid that atmosphere. My anger at the marchers who disrespected my friend, and the litany of disgraces visited on troops that came back from that war has never gone away. This photo from the 2011 Memorial Day service at the Davis Cemetery is a belated thank you to all of our troops.
In 1993 I was a principal of an elementary school and one of my students asked if I would take part in a walk against AIDS. Her father had died when his immune system shut down as a result of AIDS. Her family had created one of the 3-by-6 foot quilt panels that made up the AIDS Memorial Quilt that was making its way across the country in those days. It was my first fundraiser walk and it culminated with a chance to see the amazing memorial quilts families and friends had created, a moving experience I will never forget.
My more recent walks echo the others, but are unique, too. On Sunday, May 29, I joined my daughter and other friends and supporters of a special organization called A Touch of Understanding in the Walk ‘N Rock for Kids. A Touch of Understanding goes into schools in the greater Sacramento area, including some in Davis, to “educate a new generaton to understand the challenges associated with disabilities and to accept and respect all individuals.” The Walk ‘N Rock, reflected in the dark glasses of Tristan Eckles, raised over $380,000 for a variety of children’s causes.
Last Saturday, June 4, I walked in the Pride Parade as part of a large group of churches, synagogues, and temples in support of the LGBT community. Two years ago when I took part in this walk, there were many faith-based groups marching for acceptance along with a smaller number faith-based groups carrying signs of protest and condemnation along the route. The ugliness of some of the written and shouted comments took me back to my friend in uniform’s pain 41 years ago. This year, perhaps due to the rain, there were no organized protests along the route. Our church marched directly in front of Mayor Kevin Johnson, shown here with Pastor Mary Lynn Tobin and civility was the order of the soggy day. Maybe we are making progress.
My causes are my own and don’t represent the views of Davis Life Magazine, and I don’t expect you to support the same issues I do. However, I hope each of you find causes you can support. Raise money, contribute time, walk or take part in their fundraisers and work for something you believe in. There are so many helping organizations out there and they can only survive with your participation and financial support. Walk on.