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Pilgrim's progress: How one Kiwanian raised nearly US$17,000 for The Eliminate Project

Jun 24, 2013
Bert en route to Spain on the Camino Frances

Inspired by Martin Sheen’s movie “The Way,” Palo Alto, California, Kiwanian Bert Torres and his son Mark, a Key Club alumnus, spent 33 days traversing The Way of St. James (El Camino de Santiago)—a nearly 500-mile pilgrimage from southern France to northwestern Spain.

A certified public accountant, Bert had been looking for an adventure. “A client walked the Way and mentioned it to me,” he says. “It’s a religious pilgrimage. People have been walking it for more than 1,000 years. I enjoy walking anyway. This is something interesting to me, challenging but not dangerous. The fact that I’m raising money for MNT is one more reason to do it.”

Kiwanis International’s campaign against maternal and neonatal tetanus has a personal connection for Bert. A 1972 immigrant to America from the Philippines, Bert’s native country is one of the 30 countries still plagued by the disease. Knowing the magnitude of his commitment to the clients and Kiwanians who pledged money, he trained carefully before his journey to Europe. 

“I’m going to complete this walk if I have to crawl—so many people are counting on me, including all those mothers and babies,” he declared. Individuals pledged a total of US$16,930 in support.

A blog he kept during his viaje grande illustrates a little of his internal struggle. On day 10, he wrote, “I find that our Camino each day has its own set of challenges. That’s no different from our daily lives, I suppose.” 

On day 18, he wrote, “I am beginning to find that this walk is a test of a person’s physical, mental and personal character. Physical because a person has to be obviously fit to walk 800 kilometers for days. Mental because when your body says you can’t take it anymore—having walked enough—your mind is able to convince it that it can do a few more kilometers before calling it a day. I see it also as a test of a person’s character—perseverance and determination to accomplish something that he/she thought might not be possible.” 

Read more about Torres’ journey at http://miviajegrande.com.

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