Priest Walking Across Country as Fundraiser for Kids’ Charities
Oglethorpe Echo • Jessica Colquitt • Staff Writer • Lexington, GA
A couple weeks ago, a man carrying a large hiking backpack made his way down Highway 78, through Oglethorpe County. Hanging from his backpack was a sign with information about 6 Million Steps for Kids and various ways to learn more.
The man was Peter Munson, an Episcopal priest who has served three different churches in Colorado since 1991. He is also an avid hiker.
6 Million Steps for Kids is a fundraiser that he is currently undertaking. His goal is to walk across the United States, from one coast to the other, while raising money for four different children’s charities.
Over 10 years ago, Munson was finishing up a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park, a favorite location for him in his home state of Colorado. As he was walking, he felt a calling from God.
Munson said he did not hear any audible words from God, but the message he received was clear. It was, “Walk across the country, speak along the way, and raise money for organizations and ministries that serve children.”
Before he could take on such a task, Munson knew that he needed to prepare both his life and his body. He backpacked the entire 500-mile Colorado Trail, among many other hikes.
“Walking such a long distance is intentional, because it allows me to identify with people around the world who have no other means of transportation but walking,”Munson said. “I could do this a lot quicker if I rode a bike or something like that, but it feels like walking it is part of the message.”
He also formed a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization called Bright Future for Children. The organization has a board of directors which works with Munson on all aspects of his charitable endeavors.
Finally, he made the decision to resign from his position as the rector of St. Ambrose Episcopal Church in Boulder, Colorado. Munson expects that his journey will take the better part of this year to complete.
On March 4th , he began his walk across the country in Charleston, South Carolina. He plans to end up in San Francisco, California before Thanksgiving. Munson estimates that the trip of 3,600 miles will take approximately six million steps, which is where he came up with the name for the fundraiser. Accordingly, he hopes to raise $6 million for four different charities that benefit children and youth, all of which he has a “direct relationship” with.
The first charity is REMAR Children’s Home and School in La Libertad, El Salvador. It is a home for boys, girls, and young adults in need that aims to nurture their growth and development, help them overcome past traumas, and guide them towards a productive adulthood.
Next is Street Fraternity, which is a mentoring program for 14-25-year-old boys and young men from refugee families living in Denver, Colorado. A place of brotherhood and personal growth, Street Fraternity offers a variety of programs and inclusiveness for all.
Episcopal Relief and Development is another charity Munson will be fundraising for, and it facilitates healthier, more fulfilling lives in communities struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster, and disease. Their work addresses life-changing priorities to create authentic, lasting results.
Finally, the Episcopal Church in Colorado offers a wide range of programs for children and youth. Summer camps, retreats, and training opportunities are just some of the ways that children are allowed to grow in self-confidence and faith while serving others and strengthening their leadership skills.
Munson has set up a website for his endeavor that can be found at 6millionstepsforkids.org. There, online donations can be made, and much more information about Munson, his organization, and journals from his travels can be found.
So far, close to $5,000 has been donated to his fundraiser. The effort also has pages on Facebook and Instagram, with more information and pictures posted as he continues on his walk.
Munson spends most of his days walking but gives himself at least one day a week to rest. He is also available to speak at local churches and community centers as he passes through various areas, asking only for a donation to his fundraiser in return.
In some places, he has family or friends who provide him with a place to sleep, which is why he began his long walk in Charleston. Otherwise, he relies on the kindness of strangers for a roof over his head, or he camps outside in a tent, as he did beside the Oglethorpe County Law Enforcement Center when he was here.
Munson said his journey through Oglethorpe County and the surrounding area the other week was interesting because of the ongoing road construction on Highway 78. "There were a lot of traffic cones,” he laughed.