Day 66-69 of my walk halfway across America to raise awareness to the plight of the more than 30,000 children aging out of foster care and into homelessness, each year in the US.
(I’m sitting in Russia eight years later writing this blog.)
A business card, along with a letter, was tucked under the wiper-blade on the RV that read:
I would just like to offer you and the people that are with you whatever food you would like as you are leaving McAlester. I think it’s great what you are trying to do and I would like to help you anyway I can while you are here in McAlester. Saw you walk by the other day on Carl Albert. You walked right by the resturant but we didn’t catch you in time to offer you food. Feel free to stop by and the food is on me. Good luck on your journey man, and God bless you.
I called the number on the card and sincerly thanked James Maffiolo at Janal Ynn’s for the invite. I informed him that I had already walked out of McAlester several days prior and I’d only stopped by the coffee shop in McAlester yesterday morning very early to get coffee. I then drove out to the spot where I was supposed to start walking. I discovered his note midmorning that day.
He understood and offered me an open invitation to stop by and eat any time I was in McAlester, OK.
Lauren Trevarthen and her parents joined LTC Garkey and me just outside the Seminole Nation and walked five miles.
I pushed Lauren in her wheelchair for one mile and LTC Garkey took over and pushed her for a while. We had so much fun. We even stopped at a service station and ate burgers in the back of their pick-up truck.
Alanna Conaway joined us for lunch and snapped a few photos. She played a major role in Project Meet Me Halfway. I'll explain that role soon.
Later that evening, LTC Garkey observed a trailer on the left side of the road. It had a confederate flag flying high above it. There was an American flag laying on the porch. Garkey paused and stared at the American flag. He then walked across the front yard toward the porch and snapped a photo of the American flag. An old man standing at the front door walked out on the porch and leaned over the railing and looked down at Garkey.
“Why are you taking pictures of my house?” the old man asked.
LTC Garkey said a few words and the old man yelled out, “I have the right to fly my flag.”
“I respect your right but I would appreciate if you’d pick 'Old Glory' off the ground,” Garkey said.
I’m sure the old man didn’t expect a lieutenant colonel (now a Colonel) in the U.S. Army to walk up in his front yard and confront him about his blatant disrespect.
The old man apologized, shook Garkey’s hand and picked the flag up.
Garkey and I walked 25.4 miles that day. It was the most I’d walked in one day, the entire walk halfway across America. I’m not sure if Garkey was still fuming about the flag or if he was just out for an evening stroll, either way he nearly killed me.
Day 67 — At 10:04 AM/CDT the following morning, we drove past the old man’s trailer. The American flag was flying high — side-by-side the Confederate flag.
Garkey and I walked 20 miles that day. We stopped just a little after dark in the parking lot of Mazzio’s. My feet were killing me.
Day 68 — We got a very late start. Well, I did. Garkey was already up and ready to walk.
Sunny from KVOO (Tulsa) joined me and LTC Garkey on the walk that day. She is a very creative radio personality and has a huge heart for animals. What a wonderful, funny and very intelligent lady.
The three of us stopped by Tasty Burgers. It was literally right off the same road we were walking. I enjoyed the biggest cheeseburger I’ve ever seen. I highly recommend it.
I received a few big interview requests through my management team back in Nashville. I was glad to stop walking early that day.
Sunny went back to Tulsa and my support-car driver drove me and LTC Garkey to The Oklahoman.
Brandy McDonnell from the Oklahoman interviewed me about the walk and Project Meet Me Halfway. She interviewed LTC Garkey as well.
After the Oklahoman interviews we drove to a TV news studio where I did an interview for PBS.
No matter where I went, it felt like everyone was expecting 'the singer wearing stage clothes’ to show up. Then I would arrive wearing ski goggles and Marmot ski clothes.
Day 69 — It was LTC Garkey’s last day of the walk. We ate MRE’s outside a gas station. The owner came outside and asked us what we were doing and why. Angie Hook and her family came out to show their support.
That evening, Garkey and I celebrated over a cup of coffee at a Starbucks in Oklahoma City. He headed back to Virginia and I flew back to Nashville for an upcoming show.