A White Rock grandfather who, nearly two decades ago, walked more than 8,000 miles to raise funds and awareness for children’s causes, is lacing up for another sizable hike, this time for human rights and climate change.
Norman Ball said this time around, he plans to march a total of 1,500 miles – 500 miles of training, which he started on in July, followed by 1,000 miles for the actual march, which is set to begin March 1, 2019 at Burnaby Mountain Park.
“I want to do something of real value before I call it quits and hang up my spurs,” Ball told Peace Arch News.
He expressed disappointment with his inaugural walk.
“I thought (it) was a failure,” Ball said.
“It was big, it was huge, it was the biggest thing I’ve done in my life and I know we touched thousands of people, but unfortunately… when the walk ended, after 22 months and two days, we had only supported one small effort in Romania, which was the building of a small school.
“It’s such a small prick. So, I’ve spent the last 17, 18 years of my life, since I finished the walk, feeling kind of bad.
“And now I’m coming up on 76 now and I’ve had lots of health problems and cancer and operations and stuff like that, and I’m the least likely candidate to do anything like this. I’m hoping that will encourage people… to share the story.”
Ball, married 48 years, said he thinks of himself “as a human who just wants to do things to make things better.”
He is calling the walk a humanity march. To train, he’s pacing the sidewalks of White Rock and South Surrey, working up to 20 miles per day.
During the longer walk next year, Ball plans to speak at events in as many communities as possible to raise awareness around the causes that are driving his effort, before coming full circle for a closing event at Burnaby Mountain.
Ball said not enough people know the history of Indigenous people, and “anybody who learns that story would fall to their knees.”
Regarding climate change, he said it’s not about trying to convince people it’s happening.
“It doesn’t matter if you believe,” he said. “We can demonstrate things are different now than it was 20 years ago.”
He hopes the walk will raise $100,000 to support the two causes.
Ball said one subject he won’t broach on his travels is U.S. President Donald Trump.
“I know how incendiary it is,” Ball said of the topic, unable to resist sharing one sentiment. “He put us behind 30 years in correcting climate change, with one statement: ‘global warming is a hoax.’”
Ball has launched a website, globalrescuealliance.com to further raise environmental awareness, and said he hopes to gather 1,000,000 names to help influence government actions.
For more, Ball may be reached at 778-294-6678 or firstname.lastname@example.org