by Will Perry
Two days later I was back on the trail—albeit 50 percent. Adjusting my initial path somewhat, I reached the North Sea coast with the excitement of a little boy hitting his first home run. The nerve-racking experience of a few days ago faded quickly once I saw the sea. I seemed to forget that I was sick and my sore legs and blistered feet stopped preoccupying my thoughts. As I hugged the coastline for a few miles, I could spot the quaint village of Robin Hood’s Bay. The goal I had fought so hard to reach was finally near at hand. As chance would have it, on my last mile to the village, I ran into my friends Phil and Alex, the father-son team with whom I had crossed paths several times during my journey.
With Robin Hood’s Bay in sight, I began jogging for the first time since the nightmarish midge encounters from earlier in my walk. Despite some setbacks, I finished what I had started 192 miles/13 days ago on the cliffs of the Irish Sea. As I limped into the small village, through its narrow cobbled streets, I felt like a hero returning home from battle. I dipped my feet into the North Sea, grateful to have crossed “home plate” and traversed the whole of England.
Soon, baseball equipment will be loaded onto pallets in the United States and be shipped to São Paulo, Brazil, where a Little League baseball community will receive enough equipment to put 12 teams on the field. This walk, while challenging at times, has been one of the most worthwhile endeavors of my life. I have enjoyed a contented sense of accomplishment from overcoming the obstacles placed before me during the walk and having the thrill of knowing I have helped “glove” more than a hundred Brazilian youth.
by Will Perry
In my mind, shelter + people = safety. While this would eventually prove true, my struggles that day did not end when I reached the Lion Inn. No sooner than I had reacquired my rucksack from the Lion Inn staff, immediately changing into dry clothes, my physical state worsened. My body began shivering and shaking more than it had on the unprotected Moor plateaus. My body didn’t agree with my attempts to eat fish and chips and guzzle down a cup of hot chocolate. I took every precautionary measure I knew to keep my body from reaching a dangerous hypothermic state: hot shower, dry clothes, cocooning myself in a wool blanket and drinking copious amounts of Gatorade and water to rehydrate. It was ultimately the constant heat emanating from an electric heater that would regulate my body temperature.
With friends who had travelled up from Leeds by my side, I was driven to the nearest hospital (an adventure which took us nearly two hours). Although I wanted to sleep overnight at the Inn and continue on (albeit slowly) the next morning, the doctor who attended me at the hospital said that was out of the question. He explained that I was mildly hypothermic, due to severe dehydration and exhaustion, likely caused by “wild camping” without a tent the previous nine nights. The doctor called me “mental” and a “nutter” (British terms for a crazy person) for undertaking a solitary walk of this magnitude. Before he let me go he asked why I was doing it. I explained to him that for years I lived among some of the world’s most destitute people in Brazil and I wanted to give them a gift that would put a smile on their faces and be a force for good in their lives. Then I gave a short speech (half conscious) declaring my love for the game of baseball, explaining that baseball was the reason I came to the U.K. to study Conflict Resolution and that I was walking across England as a fundraiser to send baseball equipment to Brazilian youth in São Paulo who either couldn’t afford or didn’t have access to such equipment. Though my zeal for baseball that night in the hospital did not induce high-fives from the listening nurses and doctors, I knew that somewhere in Brazil a kid could have the chance to be play ball instead of getting vacuumed into a life of drug trafficking and misdeed.