Mid-Missouri Man’s Walk of a Lifetime
BOONVILLE – You’re probably familiar with the saying, You don’t know a man until you walk a mile in his shoes, but what about 4,500 miles. One man is trying to do just that and experiencing the journey of a lifetime along the way.
Tom Kline has experienced the extremes. From being in 60 below zero weather in Alaska to hot and muggy swamps in Florida. He has done all of this while walking across the United States. Kline earned his master’s degree in industrial engineering from Mizzou in 1968. He went on to have a career in medicine. Kline later retired and wanted to do something nobody had done before, walk from the northern most part of the United States to the southern most part.
Kline said he is doing it to raise awareness for malaria. “There are many technologies that we can deploy to eliminate malaria, so that’s the primary reason I’m doing it. If we eliminate malaria just think of all the mosquito-borne diseases that we can eliminate,” said Tom Kline.
Kline started his walk in 2006 at the northern most point of the United States in Stone Barrow, Alaska. Kline is walking all the way to the southern most point of the U.S. in Key West, Florida.
So far, Kline has walked about 4,500 miles and has about 900 to go. Kline is walking in stages and not just straight through. “You can do something like this and still have a life. You don’t have to drop out and carry a big backpack and disappear from the family or your work commitments or from your investments. You don’t have to do any of that. You can do it one step at a time I like to say,” said Kline.
But when he’s not with family, he is walking and averages about 20 miles a day. He says it can be tough at times but he knows he can do it. “I’ve always been a walker and you can do anything. This walk is a perfect example. I may not be fast but if I can be persistent, I’m sure I can complete it,” said Kline.
The best part about walking is so many different places, “Are the people that you meet. I’ve seen a lot of wildlife. I’ve encountered many bears, 20 or 30 of them in British Columbia and coming across the Yukon, grizzly bears, moose, alligators in Florida, rattlesnakes, pit vipers, the whole thing. But it’s really the people that you meet,”said Kline. For now, Kline will continue walking and be the first person to do a walk of this kind.
Kline says he has about 900 more miles to walk and plans to finish sometime next year.
by Drew Brackett