GUMP” WALKS AGAIN.
Adelaide’s very own Forest Gump, Mark Gibbens, having recuperated
from his 2009 epic 5200km walk across Australia and not wishing to rest on his
laurels of raising $25,000 for Children’s Cancer Research is embarking on his
biggest challenge yet, a walk across the United States of America to raise
money for Red Cross Australia.
To set the scene for this intrepid adventurer; in 2006,
after living in Japan for eight years Mark determined to repay the kindness of
the Japanese people he had met as an English teacher. So with the support of
the Japanese Medical Association he walked the length of Japan (3000km)
from Sada Misaki to Sato Misaki with a simple message of “No Smoking Is Love”.
Millions of dollars of health promotion advertising was generated by his walk
and since then smoking levels have declined considerably.(Web search; Walk Against Tobacco)
Building on this success, in 2009 with the support of
Australian Rotary Health and individual Rotary Clubs across the country, he
walked 5200km solo across Australia
raising $25,000 for Children’s Cancer Research.
When asked about his motivation to walk again Mark stated;
“This year is my 50th Birthday and I would like
to celebrate by inspiring myself and others with a new challenge. A walk across
America from San Francisco to New York on the Lincoln Highway, 5000km in 50
days, to raise money for the Red Cross initiative to provide worldwide Clean
Water and Improved Sanitation.”
Delving deeper into the psyche of this crazy clinical nurse
we were able to elicit the more personal reasons for his choosing to support
water projects in poorer countries.
“My motivation for this cause goes back to 1989 when
backpacking with a 30kg pack through Zimbabwe. In short I was walking
15km to Lake Kariba having just got off a local bus.
On the same bus was a young African teenager named Diamond who had been to the
city, organised a grant and was returning home with cement to build a latrine
for his village. His younger brothers and sisters had come to meet him with a
cart and these wonderful children put not only the cement on it but my backpack
and me. When I offered to pay for their kindness, they asked only if I had any
English books. Luckily I was able to give them a book of sacred places in the
world but their kindness has always remained with me and I want to repay it.
So here I am ready to face my most challenging endeavour yet
and I believe with your support we can set about helping the Red Cross save
some of those two million children who die each year from preventable diarrheal
diseases and also those who survive but receive little or no education because
the are spending their days walking miles each day to collect water for their
When and where will his next challenge take place?
“My plan is to commence walking in a “THE FLASH” costume
from Lincoln Park, San
Francisco on Saturday 24th August 2013 and arrive at
Times Square, New York
on or before Saturday 12th October 2013 thus completing 5000km in 50
days or less. By that I mean, if I am walking well after 3 weeks I will set my
sights firmly on the 46 day record.”
Anyone wishing to spur me on can donate through Everyday