Be the Cause

Walk for Hope play by play

One of the most inspiring moments of the Walk for Hope is at 4:30am.  Well before the sun comes up, 20 to 30 volunteers arrive ready to serve others for the rest of the day.  No-one is paid to be there, no-one gets any fame or recognition, so why do they pain stakingly give up their Saturday morning rest?  They would say that they do it for love.

At 4:30am the process to put together the Walk for Hope begins.  A few volunteers head towards the freeway and start putting up signs to direct traffic to the El Dorado Park.  Care for the guests is the mantra this morning.  Volunteers actually pull over on the side of the freeway and put up traffic signs so that not a single guest will get lost when arriving a few hours later.

The rest of the volunteers head to the park via a secret entrance reserved only for those crazy enough to enter the park this early in the morning.  We are the only ones there when we arrive at the deserted and dark 400 acre park. 

Some volunteers start carrying bananas to the registration area.  Some bring out the water bottles.  Some are carrying the t-shirts, and some carry quote books.  All gifts to our guests who will arrive later.

Some start setting up tables for the non-profits that will be distributing literature on their efforts.  Some volunteers take out cones and begin creating the parking lot for the day.

Some volunteers take over 100 hand made quotes and start placing them along the walk route.  These quotes have been a work in progress for the last 4 months.  Every Sunday volunteers would get together and hand-draw quotes from people like Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King.  What’s more is that some of the quotes were made by volunteers from Houston, Kansas and Ahmadabad, India.  A few quotes were made by students at Magnolia Lyceum, a school for gifted at-risk youth.  The teachers there felt that giving those youth an opportunity to do something positive with their lives would benefit them.  All that love and creativity that was poured into making those quotes will greet the walkers as they make their way around the 5 kilometer route. 

Some volunteers took supplies for the activity stations along the walk route.  Four activity stations were placed along the walk route to give the walkers an opportunity to interact, learn  and relax.  The first activity station was Seeds of Change where walkers created seed balls that are being sent to Mexico for a reforestation program.  Another activity station educated the walkers on the state of the world today.  The third activity station had stories of acts of kindness from around the world.  Each participant was also handed a smile card which encouraged them to do a random act of kindness of their own.  The fourth activity was an opportunity to self reflect where walkers would write a letter to themselves which would be mailed back to them in six months. 

Somehow, like magic, a deserted park comes alive in the span of a few hours.  Non profit organizations started arriving and setting up their tables.  Walkers arrive excited to participate in the fifth annual Walk for Hope and amazed at how much effort had gone into the organization of this event.

A few minutes later someone encouraged me to go on stage and introduce the International Peace Choir.  As I walked up the ramp to the stage I realized that this year’s walk felt very different from previous years.  This year it didn’t feel like an event at all, this year it felt like home.

After explaining the Walk for Hope to the audience we introduced the International Peace Choir which is a group of children representing many different countries of the world.  Songs of world peace and harmony started off the morning. Afterwards the esteemed Laker Girls came to the stage and led a warm-up Lose Weight Exercise to get all the walkers ready for their 5 kilometer walk.  Michele Benderra, coordinator of the Walk for Hope came to the stage and said a few words about why the Walk for Hope is important in today’s world.  David McQue with Don Dog and Hungry performed while the walkers made their way to start the route.

Walkers then made their way around the route, reading quotes, participating in the activities, and most importantly taking a step towards love in their own lives.

Around 11:45am the walkers began to return from their walk.  At that time lunch was being served by the Sikh Temple in Buena Park.  Understanding the spirit of the Walk for Hope they generously agreed to provide lunch for the walkers. 

The post walk festivities began at this time.  David McQue with Don Dog and Hungry performed to welcome the walkers back.  Danny McGaw from the UK then took the stage to perform his original tracks.  Rev Kusala, a Buddhist monk of Chinese order from the International Buddhist Meditation Center performed the Harmonica.  Isaac, a socially conscious hip hop artist rocked the crowd with his enthusiasm to make the world a better place.  Kenyan Band Milele performed a few tracks and had the crowd jumping and dancing to their tunes.  David Van Horne came to close out the day with his powerful drum circle.  Volunteers and guests could be seen drumming and dancing together till the end of the afternoon.

An event with this much care can only come to fruition through the goodness of many people.  As we begin to serve others something within us changes as well.  As such, the cycle of compassion continues to ripple us forward, with another step towards our common humanity, with another step on this walk for hope.


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