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Heart & Sole Spotlight: Mark Sternman
Mark Sternman_REAL

Mark Sternman won’t be in Massachusetts on May 7, 2017. But that isn’t stopping him from participating in this year’s Walk for Hunger – even 1,400 miles away.

Mark has been raising money for hunger relief work in Massachusetts through the Walk for 23 years. After first Walking in 1992, he fully committed his participation in 1995 and has been raising money every year since. This year, he will be away in Minnesota during walk weekend, but while some people would choose to just enjoy their vacation away, Mark remains committed to fundraising and walking his 20 miles!

Mark is headed to Minnesota that weekend to watch the Boston Red Sox play the Minnesota Twins. He’ll be staying at a hotel in St. Paul, so his plan is to walk from there to the Twins’ Target Field in Minneapolis – exactly 10.5 miles, he’s calculated – see the game, and then walk the 10.5 miles back for a total of 21 miles.

He’ll be wearing his Walk for Hunger shirt proudly as he crosses the river from one Twin City to the other, and he hopes to spread the word about the Walk to people he runs into along the route. “If I can be a little bit of an evangelist for the Walk even though I won’t be in Massachusetts, I’d like to be able to do that,” Mark says.

Mark first got involved in the Walk for Hunger through a college friend in 1992. Throughout his 23 years of walking, he has walked alone some years, and others with friends or his wife and stepdaughter. Now that his stepdaughter is 11, he hopes to encourage her to become more involved with the Walk as she gets older. As we near the 50th anniversary of the Walk, it is our hope that dedicated Walkers like Mark will pass down the importance and tradition of the Walk movement to the next generations, so that it can continue to be a powerful vehicle for change for fifty more years to come.

Mark emphasizes that the most important thing about the Walk is raising money to fight hunger. “Everything else pales in comparison to that,” he explains. “It’s a national tragedy and a mis-ordering of priorities that any people in our society are hungry. I’m sorry that an organization like [Project Bread] needs to exist, but I’m thrilled that it does.” Mark has raised more than $2,000 every year for the past five years.

He also feels that putting the time and energy into physically walking is important, because the temporary pain one feels from walking 20 miles is nothing compared to the constant pain of hunger felt by thousands around the state. “It’s a very small sacrifice on the person who’s walking. You spend part of a Sunday and you put yourself out there physically, and you maybe feel a little discomfort or something,” he says. “I think it makes you feel more empathetic and more committed to a cause by spending that time and energy.”

Mark also points to the recent change in administration as even more of a reason to walk. “My guess is there’s not going to be as much money in the federal budget for important domestic programs like nutrition and anti-poverty programs, so I feel like it’s all the more important that I do it this year,” he states.

Although Mark is excited to walk in Minnesota, there are definitely things he’ll miss about walking in Massachusetts. “One thing I’ll miss hugely this year is the camaraderie of seeing so many people,” he says. “It’s always such a friendly atmosphere.”

Mark doesn’t plan on missing the 50th Walk for Hunger next year. “As much fun as it will be to do in Minnesota in 2017, it will be even more fun to [walk] in Massachusetts in 2018,” he says.

Mark says his donors have responded positively to his plans to walk in Minnesota. As of February 7, he has already raised over $2,000 for this year’s Walk. “People won’t get 20 miles out of me in Massachusetts,” he asserts, “but they’ll get 21 miles out of me in Minnesota.”

You can visit Mark’s fundraising page here.

Filed under: Spotlights, Heart & Sole Circle, News and Events, The Walk for Hunger, Donor, Walkers & Teams