Crossing America for a cause

What would it take for you to walk across the United States?

Most normal people would reply “one million dollars,” or “a lifetime supply of Haagen Dazs ice cream.”

But Tom Beck is not your ordinary guy. The Kent, Wash., native is currently walking across the the country to raise money for diabetes research through a program called Walk USA.

“The purpose of Walk USA is two-fold,” said the 57-year-old diabetes patient. “First is to help raise funds to help find a cure for this terrible disease. Second is to show that those afflicted with diabetes can overcome it and lead healthy, productive and fulfilling lives.”

Beck plans to walk 10 hours per day, six days a week and cover 30-35 miles a day. He and his support crew left Long Beach, Wash., on April 28 and hope to reach Washington D.C. later this summer — a journey of approximately 3,000 miles.

“The most challenging thing was to get everything set up,” said Beck, who is receiving road support from friend Paula Montoure and sponsor Mike Maxwell, who represents

“Without Paula’s help and Mike’s sponsorship, this never would have happened,” Beck said.

Maxwell has provided Beck with various new nutrition products through, but he has also been Beck’s number-one promoter.

“This isn’t just business, it’s also personal,” Maxwell said. “I want to let people know what a great guy Tom is, and what a great cause the American Diabetes Association is. We want people to know he’s out there so they can lend their support when he passes through their town.”

Beck, who used to smoke three packs of cigarettes a day and weighed close to 300 pounds, discovered that he had Type 2 adult diabetes at the age of 39. He said that being diagnosed was a wake-up call because he had seen his mother suffer a slow, painful death from diabetes.

“I finally discovered what a

difference exercise can make to control the disease,” he said. “I hear some diabetics say they can’t exercise, but I’m proving that wrong!

“Exercise and good eating habits are essential to overcoming diabetes, and when this journey is over, I may be able to go off insulin,” he said.

That alone may be motivation enough for most people. But remember, Tom Beck is not “most people.”

“My number-one goal through all of this is building awareness,” he said. “I really want to make a difference in people’s lives — especially those with diabetes. The key is to never give up.”


100 percent of the funds Tom Beck and his support crew raise during Walk USA will go toward diabetes research. To learn more about this amazing journey, visit

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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