Getting Your Steps In? How about 70,000 of Them!
Recently, John Weaver of Salisbury, NC celebrated his 70th birthday by walking a somewhat astounding 70,000 steps–1,000 for every year. If you are someone who finds getting your daily steps in to be an occasionally grueling but necessary task for keeping healthy, maybe this doesn’t strike you as an appealing way to spend your birthday. Speaking as someone with relapsing/remitting multiple sclerosis, who has brushed against the notion of losing the ability to walk normally, I rather think this is an incredibly appropriate way to celebrate being alive. While I am certainly envious of the date of John’s birthday–the nexus of winter and spring in North Carolina is certainly the ideal time to take an epic birthday hike–I became determined to take on a similar challenge when my own birthday comes in June (oof…maybe I’ll just start having my birthday parties around Easter). When Dr. Jeter shared John’s accomplishment with me, interested and more than a little inspired, we decided to share his story.
Two years ago, as chairman of Christian Light Missions, John was looking for financial support to initiate a project in Peña Blanca, Honduras to build a woodworking shop to provide the young men and women who live there with a means to earn a living, provide for their families, and build futures there in their home town. As he had a relatively sizable audience already interested in his work there on Facebook, he decided he would ask supporters to sponsor a walk–pledging a dollar amount per mile. Perhaps thinking he would just walk 5 or 10 miles, the pledges began arriving in amounts of $5, $10, $15. I’m not sure if they were aware, but John had set his sights on 30 miles!! He took to his feet at 4:00a in the morning, and a little over a full marathon’s length, about 60,000 steps, and almost 14-hours later, John hit the 30 mile finish line. Together with the people who supported him, John helped raise over $10,000 for the mission.
He did 63,000 steps the next year. This year, as he approached his 70th birthday, he decided he wanted to hit 1,000 steps for each lap he had taken around the Sun. But just as the first year, this wasn’t just an exercise in celebrating his life and health. John knows a family here in North Carolina who have spent decades walking along their own incredible path. A couple with two children who both received heart transplants as babies. Their son Austin received another heart transplant at just 14 years-old. Tragically, he was soon diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, and passed away just two years later. A sincere and devout faith in God has kept their family together, often traveling to inspire others in churches, prisons, and anywhere they sense their presence will help do good. Austin’s sister Alissa is now 23 years-old, and continues to fight the illnesses that have marked her entire life. This last year has been extraordinarily trying and difficult on almost everyone, and even more so for them. So as he has done for the last two years, John decided to once again put his dedicated supporters and his own two feet to work, feeding his own joyous light into the life of others.
He started his journey early, at 2:00a (John says he is often awake long before he cares to be). He walked for hours, watched the sun rise, walked some more. In mid-morning, John stopped in for a visit at Jeter Chiropractic on N Main St. and received a quick adjustment from Dr. Jeter. He says it plays an important part in his walks, kind of like a pit-stop for the Daytona 500 of taking a stroll, he appreciates chiropractic treatments for his feet even more than for his back.
The family traveled a few hours from their home in western North Carolina to join him, and spent several hours walking along with him. Later that afternoon, John’s smartphone reported that he had done it. Taking a whopping 71,167 steps, across a distance spanning 31.6 miles, and through the generous donations of his followers he raised over $30,000. These annual treks are becoming a tradition, one that John hopes to continue next year. Given the great deal of good he manages to work into each step, along with the infectious inspiration he provides for others to take that first step, here’s hoping we will still be writing about his 100,000 step journey in 2051.
God bless John Weaver, the families and communities helped by Christian Light Missions, and everyone who follows and supports him online. We would all do well to walk a mile in his custom insole fitted shoes.
For more information on John and his missions, visit his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/johnanna.weaver