I got a great sleep after a long day. The support that we received has been very helpful. I woke up with an email from an organization called Mothers With A Purpose. They donated $1,000 to help us out. They will become our newest sponsor of the walk. You can learn more about them at http://Motherswithapurpose.org.
I kept going through my messages and saw one from a friend that had some devastating news. A death of someone very important to this mission. I was crushed but decided not to tell the others until we were all together and had some time to ourselves without the cameras on us. We all took our time getting ready and I played as everything was fine. We said goodbye to our camera crew for a while. They will be coming back in a few weeks to get more footage.
We had to leave our trailer at the hotel that we were at but we had someone who told us that they may be able to drive it up to us later. We needed to walk 10 miles today. An easy task. We drive our car to the mile marker 30, where we last left off, and left the car there and started walking. We had a ride from a local who had promised to pick us up and take us back to our car when we finished.
In my car, on the way to our starting point, I decided to tell the team the horrible news. Our fellow team member Melanie had passed away from complications during her pregnancy. It knocked us all down to the ground. This was the hardest thing we’ve had to deal with yet. She was the first person to contact me when I invited others to walk across America with me. She was going to be our support car driver and outreach coordinator but when she found out that she was pregnant she knew she was going to have to stay home. She was still helping in every way that she could with things she could do from home. She was going to be hosting a huge event for us when we got to her city in Virginia. May she rest in peace. We are devastated but will continue walking with strength for Melanie.
We started off the walk very somber. We all put our headphones in and walked at our individual pace. Within the first mile, laying on the side of the sidewalk, was an Amazon box. It had their logo, a huge smile, pointed right in our direction for us to see. Melanie has always been consistent with using Amazon Smile every time that she buys something so that a small portion of the money goes to Freedom to Grow. I feel like she picked that box so that I knew it was her and she also wanted to show that she is smiling and that it is ok for us to smile. It was a very powerful old box.
As we progressed on, in silence, I began to notice a lot of hurricane Irma damage. It was obvious that they cleaned up Key West first but we were nearing the middle of the keys and there was a lot of things that just look oppressed. It was sad but still beautiful in a natural way.
We made it about 5 miles quickly and easily. There were some people hanging out at a park right before a long bridge so we decided this would be a good place to stop for a little rest. We met a guy named Sean from Maine and another guy named John who was out traveling in his car. Sean was very interested in our cause and listened attentively to what we all had to say. He said that was extremely inspired to be of better service to this overdose epidemic after hearing our stories.
John was near the end of a 180 day road trip around the country. He had lots of stories and was writing a book so he jotted down notes as we told him our story. Both really nice guys and we hung out for a while until we knew that we must push on.
The last 5 miles were a breeze but it was crazy how much damage there was from Irma. We found out later that this is where the eye of the storm hit. Mobile homes, cars, power poles, trash, broken concrete, metal, boats, all over the place. Just crazy.
We made it to our end point for the day. The beginning of the 7 mile bridge. We had to wait almost an hour for the nice lady to be able to pick us up and bring us back to our car but it was ok. The weather was nice and we had lots of pretty views to look at. When she arrived we all ran up to the car and got in. She took us back to our car and then we had to figure out where we were going to stay.
We had a lot of logistical problems since our stuff was in a trailer that our car couldn’t move. We needed to get the car AND the trailer up to Marathon Key. We all decided to drive up to the American Legion in Marathon and see if our veterans could be of any assistance. Meghan served in the Navy and Abhay served in the Army and they were willing to take the lead in asking for help.
They gave us permission to set up the trailer on their property for a few days while we figured it out and they told us about a hotel across the street that gives veterans discounts. Boom. We were done for the night. We checked into the hotel. We still had to figure out how to get the trailer to the American Legion but we knew that if we asked enough people that we’d get it there. We had no need to worry for the rest of the night as we all had what we needed to get through until tomorrow.
We went to Subway for dinner. My friends, the Mannings, from back home gave us all Subway gifts cards in honor of Dustin. We all showered and ate and had a good time settling in. Then the State of the Union came on TV. I walked away cuz I don’t do political arguments. I don’t care what you think about them and I am not going to tell you what I think about them. I walked out and finished up my laundry and enjoyed the Florida night air.
When I came back shit had blown up. It wasn’t necessarily Donald Trump’s fault but he just happened to be the beginning of a huge argument that was in the works between our couple on the trip, Allison and Abhay. They both stormed out and walked out into the unknown with a dangerous level of anger within. I was too tired to include myself into it. I won’t give details about their private matters but it was intense and was a huge burden on the team. It was a rough night. I did all I could to ensure their safety and left the hotel room key under the mat and then went to bed.
We had to wake up at 5 am the next morning to go and walk the daunting Seven Mile Bridge. When I fell asleep, only me and Stick were in our hotel room. I was hoping that everyone would be here when I woke up. It was so bad that I wasn’t sure if that would happen.