It started out as a cool, cloudy morning at Hightower Park in Altus, where a long rainbow shined as a sign of good things to come for 62 year-old retired Air Force Vietnam Veteran, Alan Barth. A group of friends, other Air Force retirees once stationed in Altus, saw him off as he embarked on a 51 mile journey on foot along highway 62 from Altus to Lawton. Like the two years prior, Barth walked to raise awareness and donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).
Soon, the morning turned to afternoon and temperatures rose. It poured during the late afternoon hours and he got drenched along the highway until the sun came out again. By 7:30 p.m., with nearly 20 miles to go, the clouds opened up wide with rain and lightning. Regretfully, the gutsy humanitarian from Lawton, had to throw in the towel and call a friend for a ride. Still, 31 miles in Oklahoma weather is no walk in the park.
Barth stated that by then, his footsteps had become smaller and smaller, and was unsure if he would have been able to complete the entire stretch. He reported no cardiovascular problems or hydration problems, except that “the highway will beat your feet to nothing.”
This was Barth’s third attempt to complete the walk. In 2012 he had to cut it short due to the high temperatures reflecting off of the highway asphalt, yet last year he successfully completed the entire trek.
“I think an ideal thing would be to have it relayed, but still I wanted the hardship factor in there,” Barth said. “I don’t see why two healthy people couldn’t do 25 miles a piece. Although I’m bushed, I had good conditions all day.” Barth even hopes that two, 2 man teams will be able to do the walk next year.
This morning, although feeling a little disappointed that he didn’t complete the entire walk, the kids at the Lawton Christian School (LCS) were excited to greet him as they did last year. They even presented him a letter stating that the school had collected $300 to donate to the MDA in his name.
“This is our 2nd year to partner with Barth,” Stacy Simmons, LCS Elementary School Director said today. “This year, all the kids got together and made signs outside to greet him and cheer him on. It was a school-wide effort from Preschool to High school to raise $300 dollars in honor of Mr. Barth’s walk.” Last year, the school had made signs to see him off as he traveled eastbound to Altus.
“He was a little disappointed that he didn’t meet his goal, but the kids enjoyed seeing him an letting him know we were proud of him for what he has achieved,” Simmons said. “The kids were super excited.”
ABC will air the MDA Telethon on Aug. 31, from 8-10 p.m.