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The Pacing Parson

Pacing Parson Finishes His Four-Month Walk Across America for PHA

PH Patients and PHA Staff Join Don Stevenson in Silver Spring, Md. for Final Yards of 3,000-Mile Walk

Don Stevenson
(aka the Pacing Parson)

Silver Spring, Md. (September 23, 2015, 3:30 p.m. ET) – Ahead of his 80th birthday, Don Stevenson (aka the “Pacing Parson”), a Seattle-area (Auburn, Wash.) retired minister and former U.S. Marine, has just completed a four-month, 3,000-mile cross-country walk, raising awareness and, so far, nearly $10,000 in donations and pledges for the Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA).

On Wednesday, September 23, joined by PHA employees, the association’s support group patients and caregivers, and others who have followed his story, Stevenson walked the final yards of his 3,000-mile cross-country journey. The end of the walk was Stevenson’s slowest, as PH patients struggle to breathe and require oxygen or daily medication to get around and, for some, even short walks can be laboring.

PH is high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs, a debilitating disease that affects the functioning of the heart and can lead to death from heart failure. There is no cure and PH, while progressive, is often misdiagnosed as asthma or other less life-threatening diseases. Without treatment, the average survival rate is 2.8 years after diagnosis.

Stevenson and the PHA group crossed a periwinkle finish line, symbolic of the color of the lips of some PH patients when they lack oxygen. Periwinkle also represents hope and empowerment to the PHA community.

“We are both humbled and empowered by what the Pacing Parson has done to help PHA provide support for patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals and researchers in our collective fight against PH,” said Rino Aldrighetti, PHA’s president and CEO, at a short finish-line presentation. “PHA, which for 12 consecutive years has received Charity Navigator’s top rating — four stars — for fiscal accountability and transparency, will celebrate our PH successes as part of PH Awareness Month in November and our 25th anniversary in 2016. We invite the public to support Stevenson’s dedication to PHA’s cause with a donation.”

PH patients, caregivers, staff and healthcare professionals joined Stevenson’s family, friends and fellow church members for the official kick-off of the cross-country walk on June 9 from Auburn, Wash. He continued to clock up to 30 miles each day, taking Sundays off to rest. Stevenson’s journey for PHA is his 20th long-distance charity walk since 1998 to raise money and awareness for medical causes he supports, earning him the nickname, the Pacing Parson.

Stevenson had believed a 20,000-mile charity walk he completed last year would be his final one. However, he felt compelled to support PHA after visiting fellow church member Betty Mayfield in the hospital before she died of the disease.

“I made a promise to Betty that I would walk for her and pulmonary hypertension before she died,” Stevenson said “I feel honored to be able to raise awareness for this devastating disease.”

Stevenson’s walk honors Mayfield, along with another friend who is struggling with PH, and a 14-year-old Kent, Wash., PH patient who recently underwent a heart and lung transplant. In 2010, Stevenson walked 1,200 miles around the perimeter of Washington State to help raise money for expenses related to the boy’s surgery.

Stevenson followed a route along Highway 2 across the northern part of the U.S., then U.S. 50 through Ohio to Route 7 through West Virginia and Virginia. Each night, he catches up with his wife, Loretta, who drives ahead and secures overnight accommodations. The Stevensons ask hotels to sponsor their overnight stays, never having to pay for lodging.

Along the way, Stevenson met many who were honored to walk with him. Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Clint Romesha walked with him through Minot, N.D., PHA Executive Vice President Carl Hicks, who lost his daughter Meaghan to the disease, was at the kick-off event in Auburn, Wash., and then met up with Stevenson in North Dakota to walk with him. While in Michigan, he visited with PH patients at the world class University of Michigan (UM) PHA-accredited Pulmonary Hypertension Care Center. UM Medical School professor and center leader, Dr. Vallerie McLaughlin, a former chair of PHA’s board of trustees, hosted the visit. As he walked through Ohio, he was celebrated at a “Buckeye Rally for Pulmonary Hypertension” at The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.

Using #PacingParsonPHA, PHA chronicled Stevenson’s journey on social media and online atwww.PHAssociation.org/PacingParson.

The Pacing Parson’s victory reception was sponsored by PHA corporate partners Actelion, Bayer, and United Therapeutics and Lung Biotechnology. Other PHA corporate-partner support for the Pacing Parson’s charity walk included social media and marketing support from Gilead and Reata. Employees from PHA, Actelion, Bayer and Gilead joined Stevenson as he passed through their cities and towns across the country.

See the rest of the article here.

The Pacing Parson Walks With A Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient

On Saturday, July 11th, Don was privileged to walk with Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient, Clint Romesha who resides in Minot, ND. Here’s some details of that walk:

gI_143712_Don StevensonMedal of Honor Recipient Clint Romesha walks with 79-Year-old ‘Pacing Parson’ Through Minot, ND on his Cross-Country Walk for the Pulmonary Hypertension Association

 

Here’s a video of Don and Clint Romesha walking together in Minot, ND. from the NBC affiliate, KFYR in Bismark, ND.

Another video from CBS affiliate KXNews:

KXNet.com – Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Don’s In North Dakota!

Yesterday Don was in Williston, ND where he was interviewed by a reporter for the Williston Herald. Click here for the interview:

559c249eaf064.image

‘Pacing Parson’ hoofs it through Williston on crusade against pulmonary hypertension

Photo by Elizabeth Hackenburg

 

 

 

 

Keeping On Schedule!

Don is making great headway and keeping up with his schedule! He stopped in Malta on Monday, the 29th and was interviewed by the newspaper, Phillips County News. Here is the link to read the article: ‘Pacing Parson’ appears in Phillips County.

On Tuesday, I spoke with Don and he was enjoying dinner with his great friend, Gary Pederson of Edgewood, WA who met him along the way. Here’s a picture of Don in Glasgow, MT.

Don in MT

 

 

(picture of courtesy of Gary Pederson)

Media Attention While Walking in Montana

Here’s a video from KPAX the CBS affiliate in Missoula interviewing Don on his walk. Share it with your friends!

 

Here’s some media photos we found as Don is walking through Montana. These were taken in Kalispell, MT.

557f0863c97de.image557f0864d2643.imageBrenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake | Posted: Monday, June 15, 2015 11:16 am

Don Stevenson, The “Pacing Parson,” makes his way along U.S. 2 on Monday morning, June 15, in Evergreen. Stevenson, a former United States Marine, is walking from Auburn, Washington to Silver Springs, Maryland for the Pulmonary Hypertension Association. (Brenda Ahearn/Daily Inter Lake)  

 

 

8072674_GPhoto credit: Dax VanFossen

Stevenson Officially Begins Benefit Walk Tuesday – Auburn Reporter Article

By the Reporter Staff

Don Stevenson, Auburn’s man of sole, is about to launch his latest long-distance dedication.

Stevenson, The Pacin’ Parson, plans to walk 3,000 miles across America – from Auburn to Silver Springs, MD – to raise funds and awareness for pulmonary hypertension (PH), a high-blood pressure disease that affects the heart and lungs.

The walk officially begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 9 from the steps of Auburn City Hall, 25 W. Main St. Supporters are welcome to attend.

The 79-year-old Stevenson hinted last year at retirement from cross country walks after completing a 20,000 -mile trek to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society last year. But the former Marine, pastor, teacher, truck driver and firefighter has decided to walk the long road again.

Read the rest of the article on page 10 here: Auburn Reporter Green Edition, June 5 2015

Here’s a video from the Launch Day!