During Christmas week I was gumping in Monterey at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. A grandmotherly looking woman approached with her husband, some family members, and other friends. We had a normal interaction as group pictures were taken, good-natured jokes exchanged, and lots of smiles and laughter lightened the day.
As the assemblage started to wind down, this same woman approached, looking as if she wanted to share something personal. She said, “A lot of people compare me to Forrest Gump.” Now I’ve heard thousands of Gump stories in my fifteen years portraying Forrest, so I raised an eyebrow as if to prompt her, ‘Go on with your story.’ She proclaimed, “People say I’m like Forrest Gump because I walked all the way across America.”
From Blaine, Washington, to Key West, Florida: 4,026.5 miles. One year, two months, eleven days, and six hours!
Now I’m frequently amused by people’s stories … but rarely does a story launch me off the bench and make me plead, “May I share your walk in my Stories of Gumption blog series?” She graciously consented.
Here is Lyn Hanush’s Putting a Face On America, The Great American Journey – the journey of three women who walked across America.
So why would a woman decide to walk across America?
When Lyn was eleven years old, she and a friend talked about bicycling across America … a seed was planted. When Lyn was 40, her mother had a stroke and moved in with the family; during this time Lyn began taking walks of up to ten and fifteen miles with Mom in a wheelchair. Then in 1982, she walked from Mexico to Oregon along the California coast. Ten years later, she walked the Oregon/Washington coast to complete the walk from Mexico to Canada. Lyn just loved to walk!
The initial plans for the “Great American Journey” began in early 2001. After the attacks of 9/11, Lyn knew that this journey had to be a walk of prayer for the nation. So that’s what Lyn, her granddaughter Samantha Gruver, and her friend Joni Balog did. They walked and prayed their way across America.
Lyn’s book takes an in-depth look at the people they met along their journey, and lovingly chronicles these people’s special stories. There are hundreds of pictures of the ordinary Americans they met. The women purposely traveled the back roads into the small towns where everyday folks simply live their lives. Lyn’s husband Dave described it as a journey of “personal encounters with transparency, honesty, and candor.” And lots of prayers.
As Forrest completed his run across America, he said, “My Momma always said you got to put the past behind you before you can move on. And I think that’s what my running was all about.”
As Lyn completed her journey and settled back into her life at home, she experienced some “why’s,” “what-if’s,” and “if only’s”. She struggled with her own demons about the trip – about the past. Within a year of completing her journey, Lyn made her peace with God. Maybe that was what Lyn’s walking was all about.
I now understand why people say Lyn Hanush is a lot like Forrest Gump. But there are two important distinctions worth noting:
- They made a movie about Forrest – they haven’t made a movie about Lyn (yet).
- Forrest Gump was a fictional character – Lyn Hanush is a real person.
Walk Lyn Walk!
Next Blog Title: Forrest Gump and Charisma
Next Blog Date: February 14, 2011