Barefoot bucket list

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A fellow Iowan is doing something really cool. Actually, right now, it's also quite hot while 18-year-old Carroll native Rae Heim runs through the Midwest leg of her trek across America on foot.

Barefoot that is.

The point of Heim's 3,000-mile trip from Boston to Huntington Beach, Calif., is to raise money for Soles4Souls. So far, she's raised almost $3,000 for the non-profit that provides shoes for kids in need. Some of those shoes are sorted just 40 miles away, at Village Northwest in Sheldon, and local entities have also collected shoes and funds for the cause.

The funny thing about Heim is she used to hate running to the point that she thought people didn't think she could run. So, she set out to prove them wrong and has now harnessed that energy for a cause near and dear to her heart.

Obviously, not everyone is meant to literally follow in the footsteps of people like Heim and Jim Ellis, who is running across Iowa and speaking to people of all ages as part of Awake My Sole.

But, everyone is meant to do something.

I once thought my "something" was hitchhiking across the country to meet other hitchhikers, and Americans in general, and maybe write a book about it. This plan was largely generated due to interactions with hitchhikers to date.

Yes, I know it's not very original.

Mike Yankoski wrote "Under the Overpass" about being homeless in six different American cities. Ray Dolan recently made headlines when he quite literally tried to give a shot in the arm to his future book "The Kindness of Strangers," when he shot himself and blamed someone else while hitchhiking across America.

Even if I followed through with my plans, I probably wouldn't make nearly as many headlines as those two guys, but that would be OK. Sometimes no news is good news.

It would have been more of a social experiment than anything.

To see how worried my family could get?

That, too, but predominantly to meet homeless folks and really try to understand them and why they live where they live. There is such a stigma surrounding these individuals, and uncovering it would be rewarding.

Riding along with strangers, or watching them drive by me, would also give me a glimpse into how the average American really thinks about the downtrodden of our society and maybe, just maybe, give me an opportunity to change that a bit.

Most likely, this idea will never come to fruition. (Yes, I can hear my big sister's sigh of relief from here.) But, I'm hoping to find something else. Yes, little things add up and make a difference, but is there a big thing I can do, too?

I don't know, but I'll keep looking for my own "barefoot bucket list."

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