Walking across America helping homeless
Kim Denmark, above, with Live Oak City Clerk John Gill.
-Photo: Michelle Deas
By Tami Stevenson
Kim Denmark is walking across America. She is on a mission to help the homeless, particularly homeless veterans. She has walked across 16 states before reaching Florida, carrying an American flag over her shoulder with signs that say “Kim is walking across America.” Her motto is “Who are we as human beings if we ignore the suffering of others?”
She reached Live Oak during the first part of October and spoke with the Suwannee Valley Times about her journey.
“The people in Live Oak are so friendly!” Denmark exclaimed.
She stopped at Live Oak City Hall long enough for a photo opportunity with City Clerk John Gill, then was on her way to Tallahassee, via Lee and Madison on US Highway 90. Her ultimate goal is to reach California but she is in no hurry. She has been walking for the last 18 years helping homeless veterans and others in need.
Denmark says she has received a lot of help from people who are moved by her cause along the way.
The 59 year-old Ohio native owned a successful business nearly 20 years ago. She described herself as a mean and nasty person, then.
“I was arrogant and nasty. Especially to the people that helped build my business and become successful.” She said, “You can be mean and nasty all your life and one day, something happens.”
One night, she said she had an epiphany, God had a talk with her.
“Through a series of events, I apologized to the people that helped me become so successful then I began walking. It was during a snow storm,” she recalled. “I just kept walking.”
She said when she reached Indiana, she passed out and the police department helped her. Since then, she has continued to walk helping anyone she could along the way. In each area she visits, Denmark locates the homeless and works to get them medical attention, employment and temporary housing, often connecting them with a local Veterans Affairs office.
“You should come and walk (with me) one day, your life will change.”
At the end of the day, if she hasn’t met any contacts, she will call for a cab to take her to a motel. If she cannot find a cab, the sheriff’s department has helped her out numerous times. On some occasions, the police have accompanied her along the way. Sometimes, she added, if the motel owner has heard about what she is doing, they will let her stay for free. She has never asked for money, she says, but people give it.
Her ultimate goal is to have a 50 acre facility operated by veterans for veterans. No one can help with PTSD like those that have been through it.
She has established a 501c3 non-profit to aid in continuing her mission. Donations are now tax deductible. When asked where she wanted the facility located, she replied that did not matter. She said whatever state the donor is from.
“Whatever donor says, yes, 50 acres, across the fifty states.” She doesn’t care where it is. She is hoping a realtor or banker somewhere will donate the property. She believes before she gets to the west coast, as she lets people know about her goal to build the 50 acre facility for homeless veterans, that she will find a donor.
To find out more about Kim Denmark and her walk across America, visit her Facebook page, search “The Walk Across America,” or visit her website at kimdenmark.org.