★ CHRIS’S WALK FOR HOPE: A PLUS FOR MENTAL HEALTH

★ CHRIS’S WALK FOR HOPE: A PLUS FOR MENTAL HEALTH

“Unsupported means we will not have a support vehicle. All our food and provisions will be carried on our backs or in our customised walking-cart.”

Christopher Linton is describing a walk he and his son, Kelvyn, are about to undertake in support of the Black Dog Institute, a not-for-profit organisation and world leader in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mood disorders such as bipolarity and depression. This is no Sunday stroll, no walk in the park. Christopher is a former combat veteran and in his youth was a record-setting track star. “These days,” he says, “at age 50, my brain thinks I’m fit, but my body doesn’t always concur!” On the other hand, of 14-year-old Kelvyn the proud dad says, “He’s naturally athletic. They say he’s Tree-Trunk Legs at school. He runs 6-8 kilometres each day for fun; he’s a running Forrest Gump.”

Kelvyn’s also is the youngest boy to successfully complete the National Scout Aviation School, held in Fielding, NZ, in 2011. They start their marathon walking adventure on April 2nd from the historical town of Port Arthur, ending on Bruny Island at the Cheese Factory on 16th May. Going counter-clockwise, to the east coast and northeast via Swansea and Bridport to Latrobe, and continuing along the northwest and west coasts to the south via Smithton, Zeehan and Cygnet, the walk will take six weeks and cover approximately 1,400 kilometres.

Kelvyn’s walk will end in Latrobe with his triumphant return to school where plans for his Welcome Home are already underway. ( He has already had a ceremonial farewell where he showcased the customised, modified walking-cart father and son will be using. ) After a short recovery period and resupply stop, Chris will soldier on alone for another three weeks. Anyone who would like to welcome him home and acknowledge his adventure is invited; just contact the Bruny Island Cheese Factory to confirm the return date closer to the time.

The purpose of the walk

“We aim to bring public awareness to the suffering of those with debilitating mood disorders such as bipolarity and depression,” says Chris. These are characterised by abnormal episodes of excitement and energy, and potentially life-threatening lows. “Additionally I intend to combat the negative stigma attached to such medical conditions that often overwhelm, cripple, and isolate those that suffer from this uncontrollable affliction.” Christopher has struggled all his life with such illness, only recently diagnosed with bipolarity. “It brought a sense of much-needed relief.

Finally I understood why I was the way I was. I still have a way to go as I adjust to a new life, but I do feel much better about the future, seeing a light at the end of a very long tunnel,” he said. “The walk is to acknowledge my journey and make an attempt to help others who need a voice.” Christopher was born in New Zealand and spent five years as a volunteer attached to the Chaplain Corp in the United States Army.
He’s a highly decorated Desert Storm Veteran and was honourably discharged as a Sergeant. He’s a published author of three books on the English language, and also a musician who has cut a couple of records. With plans to write a book about his walk, he says, “I will be blogging a day-to-day account with pictures and a small video upload of the wonderful Tasmanians I meet along the way, stories I hear, and an account of our day-to-day routine – what we had for breakfast, the weather, how we feel, challenges we face, rewards we encounter along the way.”

Any luxuries?

With the help of a sponsor, Nubco, and a “talented neighbour”, Christopher modified a child’s jogger cart for the expedition. “It will carry our drinking water, all our food, cooking supplies, first aid, tools, clothes, solar panels for my iPhone for blogging and uploading pictures, spare tyres and tubes and survival gear,” he said. “We expect to camp in a tent many of the 45 nights, although several establishments have offered accommodation.

Some councils are offering to sponsor accommodation and individuals are also offering a patch to pitch a tent along the route. But, for the most part, we’ll camp in any and all types of weather.” And although they have sponsors for some of their gear, much of the expedition has so far been self-funded – to the tune of around $4,000. With a daily training regime and financial input, the commitment of father and son is total.

Invitation to follow and contribute

You can follow Chris and Kelvyn’s progress, view the route and schedule, check out their preparations so far, including a blow-by-blow account of how to modify a child’s jogger cart, and contribute to their fund-raising effort by visiting createyourownevent.everydayhero.com/au/earth-walk or www.facebook.com/Earth.Walk.Community. Funds will also be collected along the way and banked at the Commonwealth Bank as they go. Christopher encourages as many people as possible to interact with them as they pass, and is especially keen to see a large group of welcomers on Bruny Island. Christopher calls it a “circumnavigation” – but my dictionary unequivocally states that a circumnavigation is made by water. These two have their feet firmly planted on the ground. May these feet carry them far and happily and return them in good health after their long … circumambulation. Well, that’s
a bit better.

Story by: Judy Redeker of The Classified

 

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