Blissfield native to stilt walk through Muskegon County as part of statewide fundraiser for cerebral palsy
Area residents might see an interesting sight on the side of the road Friday.
MUSKEGON, MI – Area residents might see an interesting sight
on the side of the road Friday.
Blissfield native Neil Sauter will pass through the county
on stilts on April 26 as part of a statewide trek to raise money and awareness
for United Cerebral Palsy for Michigan, an East Lansing-based advocacy agency.
His trip will start with a 6:30 a.m. appearance at the Bob
Evans located at 1620 Apple Ave., he said. Afterward, he’ll drive over to Hackley
Public Library, 316 W. Webster Ave., to begin his walk, which is scheduled to
end at Agnew, Mich., according to the campaign’s website.
“I’ll be going down business 31 for a bit,” Sauter said,
although he generally plans his routes at the last minute. Friday’s schedule also
includes a visit to the Four Pointes Center for Successful Aging, 1501 S.
Beacon Blvd. in Grand Haven, he said.
Sauter completed a
similar trip in 2008, which netted $85,000 after he traveled 830 miles.
Like the last trip, Sauter will visit
with schools, church groups and other community organizations to raise
money and to talk about his trip and about cerebral palsy.
But the trip this time will be a little shorter. It began on
April 12 in Ann Arbor and will be about 400 miles, he said.
The walking will occur mostly on weekends, since he takes
care of his son as a stay-at-home dad during the week. The trips will take place
on six consecutive weekends.
Sauter said he has a mild form of cerebral palsy, a
non-contagious, non-progressive disorder which affects a person’s ability to
move and maintain balance or posture.
He began the stilt walking campaign as a way to “pay it
forward” after he received a scholarship to attend Grand Valley State University
because of his cerebral palsy, he said.
The walks can be exhausting, he said.
“It’s very tiring because they’re heavy,” he said about the
stilts, which weigh about three or four pounds.
The stilts are strapped to his
legs, which rub and can cause blisters. Sauter typically travels about 22 miles by foot on the
three-foot stilts, even if the weather is unpleasant, he said.
“I have had really bad weather for the first weekends,” he
said. “I’ve had to walk through some spots where the road has been really
flooded or muddy.”
The wind, however, has been his biggest issue, weather-wise,
he said. He wears long pants to cover his stilts and when the wind blows, they
catch the wind “like a sail.”
But despite those difficulties, the trips have given him
time to think and reflect about life, he said. He also enjoys meeting people
and sharing his story while raising funds for the organization.
Muskegon residents can donate to the cause by visiting www.walkfornolimits.org or by
stopping by the Apple Avenue Bob Evans location from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday
a special flier. Those interested can also give money to Sauter if they see
him while he is walking, he said.
For more information about the walk, visit www.walkfornolimits.org.