Man walking 3,000 miles for hospice awareness
BLACKFOOT — If you were traveling on Highway 91 between Idaho Falls and Blackfoot Thursday, chances are you saw a man in a red jacket walking along the side of the road with a sign that reads "walking for hospice care."
What you may not know is that the short 28-mile journey is part of a 3,000 mile walk Dr. Colin Skinner is making that began in Devil's Lake, North Dakota and continues to San Francisco. And its all to raise awareness of hospice care.
Skinner, who is from southeast England, is completing the second leg of a 6,000 mile journey that he started in 2009. Then he walked 3,000 miles from Buffalo, New York, to Devil's Lake in North Dakota. He picked up where he left off in North Dakota and has treaded through Montana, Yellowstone and into Idaho, visiting hospice providers along the way.
The walk is in memory of his mother, who died from pancreatic cancer in 2003. He said witnessing what his mother went through during the last moments of her life inspired him to hit the road to help spread the word about hospice care.
"Seeing what she went through made me want to take the journey again," Skinner said.
Last week, Skinner travelled from Bozeman, Mont. to West Yellowstone before traveling through Yellowstone National Park. He said during the four days he spent walking through Gallatin National Forest he "was in mortal trepidation of being eaten by a grizzly bear."
After taking in Old Faithful and buffalo and elk in the park, he returned to West Yellowstone, where he proceeded over Targhee Pass to Henry's Lake, where he stayed in a cabin overnight. He left at 3 a.m. toward Ashton, before continuing on to Idaho Falls, where he visited Hands of Hope Hospice.
Skinner planned to stay in Blackfoot Thursday night before continuing on to Pocatello to visit Idaho Hospice. From there he'll head south through Utah, into Arizona, to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas before heading back north over the Sierra Mountains to San Francisco.
The purpose of his journey is to visit hospices throughout the country and to encourage those suffering to seek hospice help sooner. He also hopes to encourage people to volunteer and serve at their local hospices.
"Hospices need help, too," he said.