Walking for global workers

3,000 mile trek supports entrepreneur organization

Managing editor

Jonathan Stalls, with his dog, Kanoa, is on a 3,000-mile mission. He wants to educate Americans about Kiva, a non-profit organization that gives loans to entrepreneurs all over the world.

Stalls was walking from Florence to Peabody on Tuesday morning, beginning his 115th day on the road.

The 27-year-old from Denver isn’t asking for money but wants people to participate in the program.

The organization’s philosophy is to combine “micro-finance with the Internet, creating a global community of people connected through lending.”

So far, Stalls has signed up 260 members and raised $165,000 for loans.

On the Kiva website, one of the recipients of a past loan is a young woman from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, who borrowed $175 to open a restaurant.

Stalls started his trip March 1 from Milton, Del. He usually walks in the mornings, 10 to 15 miles per day. Stalls’ destination is the Golden Gate Bridge, which he intends to reach by November.

Relying on kindnesses of strangers, he stays in homes of those willing to accommodate him.

In Marion County, Wendy Hett of Marion has been accommodating the traveler and his four-legged companion. She found out about his walk from former Marion resident Jo (Helmer) Mead, who lives in the Kansas City area.

“We were told this guy was walking across the country and needed a place to stay,” Hett said, “so we helped out.”

With a backpack full of water containers and packages of snacks and his 2-year-old dog tied to his belt, Stalls and Kanoa walked on the shoulder of U.S. 50, heading to Peabody.

“I haven’t had any problems,” Stalls said. “Everyone has been kind and generous.”

While walking on highways, particularly U.S. 50 between Florence and Peabody, he will have his eyes open for possible danger, keeping alert for drivers straying from their lanes.

“You notice I don’t have any ear buds or anything to distract me,” Stalls said.

Walking across Kansas has been a unique experience for Stalls.

“Kansas is more spread out than other states,” he said, which makes him more self-reliant since he does not have a support entourage in case of an emergency.

“So far, this is the hottest it’s been for me,” Stalls said.

He has a cell phone. When he has service, he calls his family.

“My mother tries not to worry,” Stalls said.

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