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.