As a middle school math teacher, Kevin Winton knows that there are 5,280 feet in a mile.
The Beech Grove Middle School teacher will embark on a journey that will take him over 16.3 million feet or 3,091 miles this year as he, along with Helping Hands for Freedom Chairman of the Board David Roth, will take part in the Route for The Brave. The Route for The Brave is campaign designed to support the mission of Helping Hands for Freedom and is being held to raise funds for the construction of a retreat home for military families. Winton has been involved with Helping Hands for Freedom since attending a Corn Hole Tournament and visiting with several Vietnam veterans, and those who served in recent conflicts. “Listening to those concerns upon the veteran’s return struck a strong chord with deep resonance. Over the last three years, I have volunteered for several small events associated with Helping Hands for Freedom,” said Winton.
Winton said at those events, he got to listen to stories of soldiers, including one that he remembers vividly. “I, along with my daughters, listened as he proceeded to tell of his struggle to relearn how to walk and talk while he was at Walter Reed Hospital. He talked of the visits from his mother and the struggles of his roommate. He now, with the aid of Helping Hands for Freedom, is the owner of a small business. The interaction with this young man and the several other veterans in attendance that afternoon certainly struck a chord. My involvement has greatly increased since that impactful encounter with those men and women,” Winton said.
The impact and involvement grew over time and when Roth began entertaining thoughts of walking across America along U.S. 40, Winton was enthusiastic about the possibility. Winton said two moments during his time at Franklin College are the basis for his involvement. “We were spending time, energy and effort on a fairly common community service project. Dr. Rodney T. Hood queried, “’Does this project have a net positive impact? Are you making a difference?’ Anyone knowing Dr. Hood would realize the discussion following was quite intriguing. Second, while writing a paper for Dr. David Carlson’s Theology and Literature class, I came across a quote from John Bunyan, ‘You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.’ I am hoping Route for The Brave will have an impact on numerous people for years to follow our journey,” Winton said.
In recent months, Winton has spent a lot of time doing cardio to get ready for the Route for The Brave, and actually began walking on a regular basis due to the advice of his doctor as a way to lower his blood pressure. “The mileage for training dramatically increased with the start of Route for The Brave. I emphasized an increase in daily mileage during the latter part of June and the first of July last summer while I was on break from school. The goal was to log 20 miles at least one day a week, with a minimum of 10 miles the day prior to and the day after. The mileage was tempered once cross country season and the school year started,” said Winton, adding he has been utilizing Planet Fitness for both cardio and strength conditioning.
Winton hopes the training pays dividends as he admits he will have the opportunity to see every part of America and visit with people from every walk of life. “The people I met as we walked across Indiana this summer as a trial walk were extraordinary and truly amazing. The stories shared as we stopped in various small communities along historic U.S. 40 have been fascinating. It is impossible for me to describe the sunrise over the soybean fields near Spiceland. The number of hawks is too numerous to count, but the Bald Eagle flying along the White River and then perching on the old Washington Street Bridge was one incredible sight. I cannot begin to imagine the majestic views we will have over our venture: stories I can tell to students via blog, real time video conferencing, and sharing of pictures and stories from across the country. At the start of my training, I had no idea how invigorating walking would be for me,” he said.
While many cannot believe he is about to embark on Route for The Brave, Winton said he has received “tremendous support” from the staff at Beech Grove Middle School, as well as the administration of Beech Grove City Schools. “I would like to emphasize the support from Coach Eckstein, Coach Kestner, Mr. Gearhart, Mr. Morgan, Dr. Kaiser, Dr. Keeley and Dr. Hammack. I need to also mention the invaluable support from my parents, daughters, Laura Williams, two brothers and a sister, as well as my church family at New Bethel Baptist Church. The volunteer work for the program has gone from volunteering at minor events to walking 3,091 miles. Besides the legacy of your children, there are rare opportunities for you to participate in an event that has a lasting impact on those you may never meet,” Winton said.