Stories of Change
Top: Don with Columbia CROP Walk Planning Team members and spouse Joyce, Middle: Don and Norma, Bottom: Don on the Katy trail, Bottom: Don and Dodge
Lifting Each Other Up, One Step at Time
Since he first learned about CWS CROP Hunger Walks about 15-20 years ago, Don Harter has always been up for a challenge. He recalls the first time he learned about the walks, thinking to himself, “Well, how hard can that be?” He rallied his church, Broadway Christian Church in Columbia, Missouri, and they attended their first-ever walk. This was the start of Don’s CWS journey, which would lead him to his biggest challenge yet: a 300-mile CROP Hunger Walk across the state of Missouri.
In his personal life, Don has always been active, thanks in part to his personal trainer and dog, Dodge. At his church, he began to explore ways to apply his active lifestyle and talents to support CWS’ work. He started by leading a marathon CROP Hunger Walk three years ago. Recently, during a Columbia CROP Hunger Walk Committee meeting, he came up with a new ambitious idea. “You know what would be a real challenge?” he asked his fellow committee members, “Walking across the state of Missouri.” And with that, his journey began.
Don was determined, but he knew that to accomplish his goal, he needed the support of his community. That’s when Don met Norma Klemme of the UCC Church in Union, Missouri. “She instantly understood what this was all about,” Don told us. Norma became a key supporter and teammate for Don by helping to coordinate his overnight stays at host churches. Most importantly, Norma’s belief in Don is a motivator that keeps Don going. Walking an average of 22 miles a day along the Katy Trai and Rock Island Spur can be exhausting, but when Don needs an extra boost, he can rely on the encouraging emails he receives regularly from Norma. “I wasn’t quitting with her behind me,” he said.
Don likens his friendship with Norma to the connection between CWS donors and program participants. He explains that just like Norma showed him unwavering support, CWS supporters do the same for program participants whom they may never meet. “That’s what we are trying to do, show people God’s love,” he stated.
On his journey, Don has also felt connected to CWS’ global work by reflecting on how his walk resembles the needs and challenges of our program participants. His 300-mile goal was inspired by the total amount of miles someone in Cambodia might have to walk in 40 days to get water. He also noticed that his greatest needs (food, water and shelter) were provided to him through the support of various churches involved in CROP Hunger Walks. “These are the same things CWS provides to people around the world,” he noted.
Behind the scenes, Don is also thankful for the support of the Columbia CROP Hunger Walk Committee, his church, Broadway Christian Church and his spouse of 41 years, Joyce. Despite the massive undertaking he is currently on, he said it has been relatively “easy” thanks to all this support. He added, “We all need support sometimes. Life can be a lot easier if people are loved, supported and nurtured. If they have safe water and adequate food…life can be easier if we are lifting each other up.”
Step by step, Don is spreading this message, inspiring others and helping CWS to lift up communities all around the world.
You can help Don reach his fundraising goals and follow along on his journey by checking out his CROP Hunger Walk page here. You can also contact him if you have any questions at HarterD@missouri.edu.