By Lindsay Seagraves/News Editor
Kim Denmark has walked 4,990 miles in 16 states; through the winter, spring and summer; through 27 pair of shoes and 2 pair of winter boots; through the mountains and on flat land that extends for miles.
She has walked through towns while people threw things at her and spit on her. Through it all, she says she just kept smiling.
Denmark began her journey walking across America 104 months ago in Ohio, to raise awareness for homelessness in American cities.
A previous business owner, Denmark says she was ‘arrogant and nasty’ to people who approached her for help. “What happened to me had to happen. I became very ill. And in my sickness, I was given a second chance.”
She has prevented many individuals and families from becoming homeless by talking to city officials in the towns where she visits, and talking to the homeless, addicted and needy about what they can do to change their lives.
Denmark challenges each person she talks to to do something.
“It was laid on my heart to simply walk for the homeless. The young lady who needs extra money for diapers – I’m walking for her. The drunk whose clothes are dirty – he’s a soldier. I’m walking for him,” she said at a Gadsden city council meeting on June 10.
Denmark stopped through Gadsden on June 8 during her walk to Atlanta, Ga. While traveling on HWY 278 East, she stopped at a gas station to get a drink. While counting out change, someone reached over and handed her a business card with a $20 donation. The name on the business card was Robert Avery, City of Gadsden.
Denmark explained, “Mr. Avery asked me, ‘Where are you staying tonight, do you have a bed?’”
After meeting Avery, she was checked into Gadsden Inn and Suites for the remainder of her stay. At the city council meeting, she was presented a proclamation from Mayor Guyton, the city council and the City of Gadsden, naming Tuesday, June 10, 2014 “Kim Denmark Day.”
While she plans to continue her walk to Atlanta, Denmark also plans to make it to Washington D.C. to meet President Obama. She hopes to present a petition to Obama with over 20,000 signatures that Denmark says took her about 2 years to build. The petition, she hopes, will lead to changes she would like to see for homelessness in America.
“In all my data, if I surveyed 12 homeless people, 6 of those people served in the U.S. military. They are the ones that are keeping me in this country. I’m taking my hat off and I’m walking not just for the homeless, but the homeless veterans. Because without them, where would we be?”