Every year, Iowa hosts the RAGBRAI, or the Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. One man who has already taken part in that event multiple times is now walking across Iowa, all in memory of his older sister.
Jeff Miller’s sister Linda was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2012 at the age of 64. Her disease progressed rapidly, putting her into a long-term care facility.
Miller explains, “It was a safe place for her to be. My niece said when she was at home, she didn’t know how to turn the microwave on, the stove, and they were afraid for her. One day, she was wandering around the neighborhood and she was lost. At that point, they put her in the nursing home.”
Linda died at the age of 69 after losing her ability to speak, eat, and walk.
To honor her memory, 64-year-old Miller decided to walk across Iowa, starting at Akron and ending at the Mississippi River. He set a fundraising goal of $2,500 for the Alzheimer’s Association, which he had easily surpassed just a few days into the walk. He also matched the first $1,000.
Miller loves being outside, and he actually had a different walking plan last year.
He says, “I like to walk, I like to hike, I like to backpack. Last year, I was going to walk across Spain to do the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. Of course, that didn’t happen with COVID so I thought this year, let’s stay in the country and walk across Iowa and what better way to honor my sister.”
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Throughout the 300+-mile trek along Highway 3, Miller says he hopes anyone who wants to join in covers a few miles with him. He plans to go at a slow and steady pace. This has allowed him to stop and meet a variety of people who have helped him with his walk or donated to the cause. On his YouTube account, he shared such a story that happened on his fifth day, April 27th.
He said, “I stopped in Aurelia, Iowa, at a little café called the Crum-Brew-Le Cafe, and inside, there was a little clutch of coffee people. They ended up donating $10, and then the owner of the little café donated $10 plus three chocolate chip and Andes mint cookies. They were really, really good.”
He earned the cookies, as he explained that earlier that day, he’d covered 24 miles with 52,000 steps and 370 floors climbed.
Miller says he thinks he’ll average about 20 miles a day, but he’ll take a rest day if he feels he needs one because, “Hey, it’s a walk, a journey.”
To donate to the cause, visit his fundraising page.Whizzco