8,000-mile walk begins with message of love
December 31, 2009
CFCA President and Co-founder
Bob Hentzen began his second
marathon walk Dec. 29, in Guatemala.
SAN LUCAS TOLIMAN, Guatemala — Walk2gether, an 8,000-mile trek from Guatemala to Chile led by CFCA President Bob Hentzen, launched at 4 a.m., Dec. 29, to a backdrop of fireworks and marimba music.
The walkers—which included families of sponsored children and the aging, visiting sponsors, and CFCA staff representatives from Guatemala and five other countries—were greeted by well-wishers lining the streets of San Lucas Toliman.
“It’s an amazing response from the people here,” said Patrick Kelly, a sponsor from Batavia, Ill., who walked part of the 25-mile route on the first day. “The number of people who have joined in and are lining the walk route at 4 a.m. is just amazing. You can tell that people really love Bob and they love CFCA and what’s going on.
Suzanna Vermeul-Wilson, a sponsor from Corvallis, Ore., participated in the walk along with Kelly and other sponsors as part of their mission awareness trip.
“I’d like to think that it’s the journey of hope and faith the people have, and that the organization is really here and is a presence to them and a help to them,” Vermeul-Wilson said.
The walk began with a brief prayer for Hentzen and his wife, Cristina, who will accompany him on the trek. The blessing was led by Father John Goggin, a longtime coordinator of CFCA’s Atitlan project and associate pastor at the San Lucas parish.
Father Goggin said the people of San Lucas have been part of CFCA for more than a quarter century.
“They feel very much a part of the CFCA family, and this walk kind of brings so much together,” Father Goggin said. “It’s the chance for the people to celebrate, the chance for the people to be able to walk with Bob and all of the staff and think of the values of CFCA.
Walkers on the first day went through several small towns and villages before setting up camp for the night. Among those walking were CFCA staff members from Guatemala, India, the Philippines, Colombia, El Salvador and the United States.
The walk will wind through 12 Latin American countries over a 16-month period. It is the second marathon walk for Hentzen, who walked from Kansas City to Guatemala in 1996 to express his love for the families CFCA works with and to show them that they are not alone.
Hentzen said families, particularly mothers, turned out in large numbers for the second walk out of gratitude that at least one of their children is in the Hope for a Family sponsorship program.
“The poor read us very, very well,” Hentzen said. “They know our true attitude towards them, and when they find sincere love—that we relate to them as an equal and not as a superior—they also know that we expect them to better their situation. …
“We expect them to participate in CFCA development programs, learning new things and taking the initiative the world needs if we are going to offer a better place for these children to grow up."