ALBANY, Ore. – A 51-year-old Connecticut woman is leaving Albany this weekend for a walk across the country, hoping to inspire others to dream big.
Donna Stokes flew out to Oregon on Wednesday, where she will begin her approximate six-month journey. Her adventure begins Saturday morning from the YMCA in Albany.
“When I was looking at a destination to start, I was looking at different YMCAs because the YMCA has been so instrumental in my health and fitness,” Stokes said.
She says she has lost over 100 pounds, which she would not have been able to do without the inspiration from the YMCA.
“I came across this YMCA in Albany, which happens to be building a new ‘Y.’ And I thought, wouldn’t that be great?”
The YMCA in Albany has already started its construction of a new building, but is waiting for additional funding before it will be able to complete the project, which should be finished within the next year.
Stokes says the site is the perfect location for her to start her journey. She says she is hoping to share the inspiration she has received from the YMCA – not only of fitness, but of achieving personal goals – with the rest of the country.
“It’s the fact that I’ve gotten in shape and how empowered I feel,” she said. “And I think it’s a good message to let people know they can make changes for themselves too. It’s not just fitness. They might have other struggles that they’ll want to change and just need that motivation or that push to take that first step.”
Though Stokes says she is not scared, she says her daughter is worried for her.
“She would rather that I didn’t go,” Stokes said. “However, she did say she’s been hearing about it her whole life.”
Walking across the country is a dream Stokes has had for 30 years.
“But she also said if something happened to me – which she doesn’t think will – but if something did – she knows that I was doing something that I’ve always wanted to do.”
Stokes will be pushing a cart with her that can hold up to five square feet of goods. She will be packing a GPS, her cell phone, an iPad, a solar battery charger, water, food, clothes, a tent, and a sleeping bag among other items.
Her goal is to walk approximately 20 miles a day, though she says some days will be slower.
“Mountains will slow me down,” Stokes said. “Weather will slow me down. And just being tired I think might slow me down.”
From Oregon she will walk through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut. Her goal is to make it back to her YMCA in Plainville, Connecticut within six months.
To follow Stokes on her journey, click here for a link to her blog.