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Walking for the Homeless

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RALEIGH — Roger Gates is a pastor from Oklahoma with grand visions of public service. A couple of years back, he started a mission to raise money for relief centers and homeless shelters in his state. The vision got too big.

Now he's on a fundraising mission that's truly labor-intensive, and taking it one step at a time.

"I drove from Oklahoma, parked my car in Wilmington (NC) and on the 15th I started walking I have been walking ever since. I am going to be walking I-40 from Wilmington North Carolina to L.A. The Lord told me to give him a whole year to get it done."

Blisters and sore feet are a hazard of the task he has set himself. "I've walked about 9 days and the rest of it have been rest and getting blisters off my feet. I stayed in a little town back down the road -- Benson. I can probably make about 30 miles today."

Starting his walk in spring, Gates has some hot summer weather ahead of him, as well as sudden downpours. But he says the toughest part is getting ready physically.

"When you start off you have to get in shape. (It takes) about three weeks of intense pushing yourself and overcoming things. Getting tougher. Back and shoulders getting tougher. You get to where you enjoy it."

Gates says he has been feeding others and meeting their needs for about nine years, without taking a vacation. He says this cross-country walk is like a vacation for him.

Gates estimates that he covers about four miles an hour. He's already met a man willing to donate enough land to build a relief center in Oklahoma.


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