By Amie Sites Pharos-Tribune
---- — Something that began as a dream became a reality when Stacie Eichinger began her Walk across America, or Walk 4 Courage. The trip that began in Ocean Shores, Wash., on May 8 will continue 3,800 miles to Savannah, Ga.
Raising money for Beads of Courage, the trip has brought Eichinger to Indiana, where she recently spent a night at the Lighthouse Lodge Bed and Breakfast in Monticello.
Monticello officials, the Greater Monticello Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau and Mike and Bonnie Triplett of the Lighthouse Lodge Bed and Breakfast decided to help Eichinger, who is visiting children in hospitals along her route.
Beads of Courage, as described by Eichinger, is a program where every procedure has a specific bead to represent each surgery. Children patients, through Beads of Courage, receive a bead for each surgery they have.
The program is currently serving more than 3,000 children in more than 150 children’s hospitals through the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and the United Kingdom, according to its website.
The story is powerful and touching, Eichinger said.
There are these 5- or 6-year-old kids who have three or four necklaces and each necklace holds 100 beads,” Eichinger said. “On days like today when it’s a little windy and might not be that warm, I think about the kids and it makes it worth it.”
The idea for the walk came out of a book Eichinger read in high school.
“Three years ago, I decided now or never,” she said.
Eichinger volunteered for Beads of Courage, prior to planning the walk, and decided that if she was going to go through with it, she would raise money while doing it. Information about the trip can be found on her website, http://www.walk4courage.com/.
Eichinger is now south of Indianapolis and on her way to Cincinnati. She has raised $19,000 and has the goal of raising $38,000.
The money will go toward purchasing the beads.
To run the Beads of Courage in one hospital, like the Seattle Children’s Hospital, the cost is $10,000 each year. Eichinger has almost raised enough money to run the program in one hospital for two years.
There are a little less than 900 miles left in her trip, and an estimated end date is Feb. 1. While traveling, Eichinger has gone through four pairs of shoes and is about to be on her sixth pair.
She said each pairs lasts about 500 miles.
Amie Sites is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her: @PharosAES.
Learn more online Information about Stacie Eichinger's Walk across America can be found on her website, www.walk4courage.com/.