Kevin Campbell relies on the kindness of strangers, who helped him Sunday in Ada.
Campbell is walking a crisscross path across America while he still has the chance to do it. His vision is failing due to macular degeneration, and he wants to see the country while he still can.
“In 2006, I was losing my vision,” Campbell said in a distinctive New England accent, “due to macular degeneration, which a lot of folks have. It made a substantial difference in my vision since 2006.
“My youngest brother got married in Seattle. While I was there, I said to myself, ‘You know what? I always wanted to walk from Boston to LA’ That never occurred, so I said, ‘I’m gonna see if I can walk to Florida.’
“I wanted to see if I could do it. It took me a little over three years.”
Campbell landed in Ada by accident. After he fell on a highway shoulder in Atoka, the local police made arrangements to get Campbell to Ada via a JAMM rural transit bus — a public transportation system in Johnston, Atoka, Marshall and Murray Counties.
“I got here (Ada),” Campbell said. “My shoe fell off, and I fell. What are the odds of falling twice in one day? I think my backpack saved me. All (of a) sudden these folks came out of the woodwork. It’s a wonderful community. It was amazing, you know. Macy Bailey was one of them. There must have been 10 people there, men and women, who came to help me.
“Everybody I’ve met in all of my journeys has been very thoughtful, very kind.
“One man, whose name is Tyler — I wish I’d gotten his last name, — and his girlfriend Dana, they put me up in the Economy Inn for two nights, since I was $19 shy of being able to pay for it. He also bought me something at Arby’s.”
When Campbell set out on his cross-country trek, he was motivated by a desire to see the country — the vistas, landscapes and features commonly evoked by the phrase “America the Beautiful.” Little did he know then that the people he met along the way would become America’s most endearing feature.
“It may sound like I am boasting about my journeys,” Campbell said, “but I’m really trying to applaud the people I’ve encountered. That’s my real focus, to thank Macy and Tyler and Dana and all the other people who came to help me.”
Campbell says he tried to walk north toward his home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, but was turned by back on more than one occasion by snow. He finally decided to spend the winter of 2018 in warmer climes.
He found warmth, in more ways than expected, here in Ada.
Richard R. Barron | The Ada News