Havre Daily News/Nikki Carlson
Terri Frey, left, of Havre guides Don Stevenson of Auburn, Wash., who is walking with a cane and wearing a mask around his eyes, along U.S. Highway 2 west of town this morning.
Don Stevenson is in Havre this week, stopping here on a 1,400-mile walk from Rugby, N.D., to his hometown of Auburn, Wash.
It's just a jaunt compared to some of the walks he's done since he retired as a pastor in 1998, but Stevenson, 76, and his wife, Loretta, say they are having the time of their lives as they meet people along the way.
This walk is to raise funds to fight blindness. He's made similar walks for causes ranging from Alzheimer's disease to Huntington's disease.
He decided to take up the cause of blindness after a friend had a child born prematurely and blind.
Today the child, Nicholas Premo, is still blind, but because of advances in research, "I'm confident he will see some day," Don said.
Don walks along the side of the road during their journeys, while Loretta drives ahead in their pickup and makes arrangements along the way.
They started in Rugby, a small town about one hour east of Devil's Lake, because it is the geographic center of the North American continent.
They meet people from all walks of life, and the attitude he gets from folks makes him positive about America's future.
"You don't get a good picture of this country from the 6 o'clock news," he said.
For instance, he said hotels, motels and restaurants have offered him food and lodging. In Havre, he's staying for four nights at the Rails Inn.
People along the way have offered support, prayers and money, he said.
Before taking off, Kmart offered a hefty supply of water, he said. Other stores have made contributions along the way.
Stevenson has been nicknamed the "Prancin' Pastor," and he stops at churches along the way.
On Sunday morning, he joined members of the Church of the Nazarene for their service and special picnic at Beaver Creek Park.
While in Havre, he will make the case for the fight against blindness. Among other things, he will a walk the length of 1st Street with a blindfold to try to empathize with the blind.
He said he did this in many cities where volunteers offer to serve as a guide for him.
On Thursday, he will head westward, hoping to get to Chester by the end of the day.
In between walks, he has written books, Christian novels. When he gets back to Washington, he will begin work on another book, "this time, serious theology," he said.
But he won't rule out another walk.
"The walking has kept me young," he said. "And God has kept my joints in good shape."
Don Stevenson is walking to raise money for the Boney Lake Lions foundation.
To help in the effort:
• Stevenson needs more people to help guide him through his journey as he passes through towns along the way. To be a guide for him, call his cellphone number at (253) 249-1630.
• Make a donation at any Wells Fargo bank to account number 2553789732, the "Lion Heart Walk for the Blind."
• Mail a donation to Lions Foundation, 18429 89 St. E., Boney Lake, WA 98391.
• Make a donation at the website http://www.theprancingparson.com.