Walking Across North America for Hospice

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Walking Across North America for Hospice—Part 2, 2011-12

When last we heard from Dr. Colin Skinner, it was December 2009 and he was blogging from frigid North Dakota. He’d walked—yes WALKED—every step of the way there from New York City.

He has kept his promise to return to the United States and complete the walk, picking up his route in North Dakota and heading for San Francisco.

On September 10, 2011, Colin will set off from Devil's Lake, North Dakota and will walk across the Great Plains, through the Rocky Mountains in winter, to the Grand Canyon, into Las Vegas, and through Death Valley. In the last leg of his journey, he will snowshoe over the Sierras to reach San Francisco.

This walk (from New York to San Francisco) is a reprise of his 1988 journey. He chronicled that adventure in a book entitled Beyond the Setting Sun, which tells the story of his first walk for hospice across Britain and America.  Over 1,500 copies of the book have been sold, raising over $10,000 for hospices.  Books can be ordered from skinnem@aol.com.

By April 1, 2012, Colin will have walked over 12,000 miles (since 1988) to encourage support for hospice.  On the way he has visited over 120 hospices.  Through television, radio and newspapers, he has spread this important message “Hospices are there to help people with serious illness, but hospices need help too, in the form of volunteers and support from their local communities.
Synopsis of the 2009 Walk
(Read all his blog posts from 2009 here:

Colin's last hospice walk, back in 2009, was from New York's Comfort Inn, at JFK Airport, to mile marker 283 outside Devil's Lake, North Dakota.  Colin stopped walking on December 3, 2009, after a journey that included ordeals as meeting up with a wolf in the wilds of Upper Michigan, having to make incisions in his feet to relieve the pressure from blisters, and facing down two wild dogs at 3 am in downtown Flint, Michigan.

In Buffalo, in 2009, Colin stayed three nights at St. John the Baptist Hospice House: there he met a woman who told him that hospice was “like a second family” to her, and that because of hospice she could “sometimes forget that she was ill.”  In Windsor, Ontario, Colin met a man who could not sleep in hospitals, where there was always someone coming in to check on him.  At the hospice house the man had a room to himself, where he could finally get some rest.  Back in Britain, a hospice patient tried on Colin's backpack and walked around with a big smile on his face (much to the dismay of the hospice nurses)... to Colin that man's smile was priceless.

What Has Colin Been Up to Since December, 2009?
Exhausted and with feet damaged from three days of walking in snow and windchills of minus thirty, Colin returned to his home for Christmas 2009 in the South East of England.  In 2010 Colin wrote a second book, about a walk that he had carried out in New Zealand.  New Zealand - 1500 miles on foot through The Land of The Long White Cloud was published in December 2010.
2010 was a harrowing year for Colin and his family. In May 2010, Colin's mother-in-law, Barbara Schneider, sadly passed away from a stroke, after six years of suffering from Alzheimer's dementia.  Just two days after Barbara's death, Colin's father-in-law, Johann, was taken into hospital for a bowel cancer operation. Fortunately, the operation was a success and Johann (who will be 90 this year) made a full recovery. Sadly, Johann's sister, Anni, also died from a stroke in June 2010 and her husband, Louis Nagode, was taken into hospital for emergency heart bypass surgery.  Louis also made a good recovery.  Colin and his wife, Monica, spent much of 2010 supporting various family members through their grief. 

Although 2010 was difficult, again it brought home to Colin the fact that, every day, families have to face difficult circumstances and have to deal with serious illness.
Colin is now set to do what he can to help hospice, as he journeys once more from North Dakota to San Francisco.