Day 24: What a day! Thank you Shaon, Sunhee, Gaston, and Jaresiah for a beautiful afternoon evening in Chicago! This meant the world to me to be greeted to Chicago in this way!
Walk USA for Health Equity has now passed through 6 states: South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, and now Illinois! Miles walked on this leg, 583, 605 last leg, totaling 1,188 miles since Myrtle Beach.
The day started in Hammond, and quickly turned into an amazing bike/walking path at Wolf Lake. What a gorgeous way to start my entrance into Illinois. It was simply inspiring! What a sense of relief and gratitude to be out there on the lake. I knew it wasn’t going to last too long, so I wanted to take it all in!
After entering Illinois, I was on Chicago’s South Side, I imagine, not too far from where President Obama did community organizing before he entered the IL legislature.
I walked on the bike path through Southside for miles and didn’t see one person. I saw no businesses. After 9 miles, I finally found a church to rest my weary legs and back. I was sitting at the church’s side steps, getting a bite to eat from my snacks, when I saw a group of people from the Chicago Archdiocese who told me the church was no longer opened. One woman told me to be careful in the area. I felt safe.
After walking on South Shore which parallels the lake, I realized that there would be no stores on the route. But I was ok. I still had energy.
Finally, I arrived on Lakeshore Drive and it was soooo beautiful! I’ve been to Chicago several times and have always loved the lake. It really
is among Chicago’s best features in an amazing city.
Lakeshore went on and on, and the rain was beginning to happen, fatigue setting in from running out of food, so I sat under a bridge eating my last scraps. I messaged Shaon, my amazing support in Chicago, to see if she could bring me some good, any food to our meeting
The last couple miles, even with it raining, I got reenergized. There were so many cyclists and runners on the many trails! It was beautiful to see. Sometimes cyclists, on any path, though, can be rude to walkers/runners saying, this is a bike path! This happened several times along the way. As Rodney King said, “can’t we all just get along.” My mind was blown thinking about just trying to survive on some of my miles on my walk without any pedestrian or bicycle routes. For people to not be able to share a designated pedestrian/bike route is simply incredible.
I arrived to the Chicago Firefighters memorial being the first one, 30 minutes early. So I apprised the situation. The rain was really beginning to come down. And with my lower back hurting, I did what any sane person would do. I climbed a tree to sit down, trying to avoid the 4 inch thorns, and even brought my backpack up the tree, using my poncho to cover me and backpack, and while waiting in the tree, I watched the news.
Was I happy to see Shaon Hines, ND, the President of the Illinois Association of Naturopathic Physicians, and boyfriend, Gaston, Dr. Sunhee, ND, and her amazing daughter, Jaresiah!
Shaon, Gaston, and I walked along the absolutely stunning Lake Michigan to City Hall. Thankfully they were there to guide me through the most beautiful walk to City Hall! One I’ll never forget. It was simply remarkable! I really enjoyed our conversations along the 3.5 mile route to City Hall! It was a very special time!
Sunhee and Jaresiah met us at City Hall! After photos, a very veteran Chicago cop who works at City Hall, came over to talk with us. It was the most heartwarming experience I have ever had with a cop on duty. He was funny, engaging, extremely interested in us and the walk, etc. and wanted to show his solidarity with our cause.
He pretended to puf me in handcuffs as his way to welcome me to the city!
The mayor was coming, but the cop couldn’t tell us who, but he asked us to wait there until a certain person came through that we could potentially meet. We waited for about an hour, talking to the cop, about everything under the sun, and it was the mayor we were waiting for, but because he was behind schedule, he immediately got into his car with his entourage, probably not seeing us. During that hour, a Chicago bus hit the mayor’s car. That was exciting!
Shaon arranged for a very Chicago experience at Giordano’s for deep dish pizza! It was a marvelous dinner, with all the fixings! Thank you Shaon!
I am overwhelmed with appreciation to Shaon for organizing such a beautiful experience in Chicago – one I will never forget!
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