By Sue Botos
When Arthur Dunn goes for a stroll, it’s not just a walk in the park. In fact, his latest journey is taking him around the perimeter of Ohio – a trip during which he could walk around 1,000 miles.
Dunn stopped in Rocky River last week, setting up camp for the night in the City Hall Park gazebo after getting permission from police. Over his dinner of chicken noodle soup, heated on a portable burner, the 75-year-old Newton Falls resident explained what makes him walk.
“My wife and I were high school sweethearts,” he began, pausing for a brief prayer before supper. He said he and Doris were together for 58 years and married for 49 when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October 2008. She died six months later.
He tried to keep busy during the following winter, but confessed to his two sons, “This is killing me.”
The former Marine then went to the local library, and after some research, discovered the network of bike trails winding through the interior of the state. After further study of the routes, he hopped on a bus to Cincinnati, then walked on a diagonal track through Ohio to the Pennsylvania line, where his sons picked him up and took him to his Youngstown area home.
Dunn chronicled his journey in a book, “Footprints From Cincinnati Home,” and gave talks to school and senior center audiences about his 335-mile adventure, which took him 21 days.
But then, Dunn said he was called to make a special trek to two of the sites synonymous with the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Shanksville, Pa., and the Pentagon.
Dunn fashioned a cart from a jogging stroller, which carries everything from food, to bedding, to extra shoes, all neatly labeled.
Beginning on April 15, 2012, with his grandson’s school class following his progress, Dunn set out for Shanksville, where he was met by his son and grandson. After visiting the memorial to Flight 93, Dunn continued on to Washington, D.C., where he visited the Pentagon, as well as his brother. The 460-mile trip took 22 days, averaging about 20 miles a day, according to Dunn, who was shut down for a day by a snowstorm.
Not intending to do another marathon hike, Dunn returned home, only to be encouraged by the children to do one more walk. “If you do your homework, stay fit and are with the Lord, anything is possible,” stated Dunn.
Beginning April 1, Dunn was on the last leg of his journey, which outlined Ohio, by the time he set up camp in Rocky River. He said he had 45 days under his belt, averaging 24 miles a day over the last week for a total of over 960 miles.
Beginning down the Pennsylvania line, Dunn trekked through West Virginia for 60 miles, and then re-entered Ohio, where he traveled through the southern part of the state, eventually heading for the Michigan border. He said this particular day began in Lorain, and the next he was headed to Euclid. He estimated that he had two weeks and 175 miles to go before he was back home, although his progress was slowed a bit today by two flat tires on his cart.
He showed a visitor a detailed, handwritten journal, which chronicled the number of miles walked each day, what he saw and with whom he spoke.
Dunn said people have been very kind to him during his journeys, offering him food and water. He said that a highlight of this trip was meeting Steve Newman, “The Worldwalker,” who took him to his home in Ripley, Ohio.
Asked what keeps him going, Dunn thought for a minute. “It’s the kids that keep me going. I can’t stop. They’re our upcoming generation. I want to impress on the kids that they can do anything,” he said.