Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Ten years after his wife died from a failed heart transplant, Mike Tittinger is keeping a promise to her by walking from San Francisco to New Jersey.
"I'm more than half-way," he says. "I believe Dodge City was my mid-point."
Tittinger is walking across the country to draw attention to, and raise scholarship money for, heart transplant patients and their families. The fund, he says, is named after his late wife Deanna's imaginary childhood friends, Onny and Oboe, whom she played with indoors since her heart condition kept her from doing rigorous things.
"I chose walking just because I thought it represented a heart transplant patient's road to recovery," he says.
The Tittingers worked and lived in Philadelphia. After Deanna's death, he moved to California. Mike says he promised Deanna he would come up with a way to help transplant patients.
He hopes drivers see the website address http://www.mikeywalks.com that he wears written across the back of his shirt. He says a tax deductible donation will help him reach his goal to raise $25,000 for heart transplant patients. "People can donate right to the scholarship," he says. "It doesn't pass through me."
Tittinger has never been to Kansas. The plains of Kansas, he says, are a welcome relief from trekking across the Rocky Mountains.
His daily distance depends on the weather and how far apart towns are. He says he is into his fourth pair of shoes, and the baby jogger tricycle is on it's second set of tires. "This whole journey is a leap of faith," he says. "I don't always know where I'm going to sleep each night."
Tonight, Tittinger will rest the night in Wichita before getting back on the road again. He hopes to arrive on the east coast between Thanksgiving and Christmas. You can donate to the heart transplant scholarship fund by clicking here.