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A WALK TO REMEMBER………….. JILLIAN & LEE WAGNER

May 12th

Thank You !

Where do we begin to thank all that have prayed and supported this journey of hope Debbie and I begin back in January. Under these circumstances “Thank You” seems like such a small gift in return for what we have received. We pray that God will bless each of you in a very special way so that you will know it is the result of you efforts here.

The follow thank you’s are in no particular order and we consider them all equal.

Our core support group that helped plan and execute this journey were Rose and Gary Snider, Lisa and Wallace Green, Terri Henry, Bill and Betsy Roland. Our computer guru that created the website is Bill Roland of Proline Computer, Without his work we would have been nothing more than word of mouth. During the journey the website was viewed over 42,000 times.

The congregation at Brooks United Methodist Church prayed for this project every day. Rev. Derek Porter and Rev Leslie Langford organized the youth for a wonderful day of walking.

The Rev. Steve Schofield, who has been our friend and spiritual compass for the past 5 years. Without him we would surly have lost our way and forever would have been in darkness. The walk on the Silver Comet Trail with you, Chris, and Patrick was a day well spent. 

Sam Sweat and the people with the Fayette County School Board who supported our efforts from the start. Audrey Toney, Mike Davis, and especially Barbara Phillips from Starr’s Mill High School. These folks have continued to keep Debbie and I in their thoughts and prayers for these many years.

Boyd Brothers Transportation, who gave me the time to complete this journey. Richard and Vicki Bailey and the Boyd family, I am forever grateful for your support and contributions.

Pride Medical for supporting Debbie and I with your prayers and your contributions. You cannot imagine the feeling of good will we receive every time we are with you and your people. Debbie and I consider you part of our family.

Smith and Davis Clothing Company for donating my walking shoes and other clothing needed for my walk. The shoes were great and still have some miles left on them. Can I keep them or should I return them to you??

The Welcome Civitans Club and Ray Baity as well as the North Davidson Junior Civitans Club for inviting me to be the guest speaker at a recent dinner.

Mike and C’s Family Restaurant, who staged a benefit day for the Jillian and Lee Scholarship Fund.

Trey Alverson, the reporter from the Fayette Daily News, who first wrote of our project and got it out into the public domain.

SERV Ministries International and Steve Kasha, Randy Saxon, and Brenda Shearer. These are the folks that I do mission work with in Mexico and beyond. They have prayed and support our project from it’s beginning. Please click on their website link within our website and see all the great things they are doing in the name of God.

Mexpress Transportation, Chick-Fil-A, The Valdan Group, G&P Trucking, all prayed for the success of the journey and supported it. Please visit their websites as well.

Kathy and Joe Burgess, Bruce, Helen and Dick Rowland, in South Carolina, who pick me up, feed me, and gave me a place to sleep while I walked through the Palmetto State.

Cooper, Kim and Jeff Tennant, My sister and her family in Charlotte who kept me feed and safe while I walked through part of North Carolina.

Assurance United Methodist Church in Huntersville, NC who allowed me to address their youth group on choices they make and how important it is to make the right ones.

The Lexington Dispatch, The Columbus Ledger Inquirer, The Winston-Salem Journal, The Prowler, The Concord Independent Tribune, The Salisbury Post, CNN Nancy Grace Show, Fox News WGHP 8, who all contributed to getting our story beyond the local level. Thanks to all of you we now receive emails of support from all over the U S and beyond.

John and Jamila Everhart, my life long friends who provided meals and lodging for me when I begin to close in on my destination. Also they have been making sure Jillian and Lee’s gravesite always has fresh flowers. This touches our hearts so much. 

Hinley and Christy Truluck, my cousin and his wife also feed me and gave me a place to sleep. No wonder I did not loose as much weight as I thought I would. All I did was eat and sleep.

Carol and Jimbo Wagner, as well as Heather also provided my whole family from Georgia a place to stay and again feed us all when we arrived in Welcome. Heather, I know we used you bedroom and you never complained. Thank you.

North Davidson High School who provided the track for the youth walk last Saturday. A special thanks to Glenn Shoaf, who in spite of recovering from a recent broken ankle walked with me on the track. Things like this only inspire me to overcome my grief and go on.

Toby Williams, who organized the NDHS walk with the youth from Bethesda and other groups. She was on the track all day and her tireless efforts made the project a success.

Bethesda United Methodist Church, a place where I have been a member for all of my 56 years, you are a beacon to anyone in need of guidance from above. You have created in me a person that would attempt a project of this magnitude and be able to complete it as planned. I will forever be grateful to Bethesda and the people that make the church body. Whether you are a direct relative of not, you are my family.

Davidson County Sheriff’s Department and Brian Grubb, and the Welcome Fire Department and Larry Myers, who escorted our group of walkers from North Davidson to Bethesda. You are an example of all the folks that gave without reward in memory of Jillian and Lee Wagner.

We know there are countless others that we have forgotten to mention here, but rest assured you will be in our prayers every day. We know that without your ability to lift us up during our greatest time of need we could not have gained the high ground in this, our unspeakable tragedy. Jillian and Lee were very special to their mom and dad. We had no idea that their lives were so special to so many others.

This completes this walk but not this journey. Debbie and I are available any time any place that we can help a grieving parent, a troubled youth, a project that God wants done. We do not know how long it will be until we see Jillian and Lee again but the work of reaching out to others in their memory will continue until them.  

God Bless You All,

Debbie and Lee Wagner

May 11th   Mother’s Day

It is raining very softly as we arrive at North Davidson for the final leg of the journey. There are a small handful of people waiting for Debbie and I as we find our rain gear and umbrellas. I am thankful for the ones that weathered the elements to support us.

The Davidson County Sheriff’s Department along with the Welcome Fire Department have several units each at the ready to block the highways and escort us the three miles or so the Bethesda United Methodist Church.

I am chatting with Larry Myers and others as to the logistics of the day when I glance behind me. Within the last few minutes the lot we are standing in has filled with our friends and family. Again I am overwhelmed with emotions. In total there were 65 souls dedicated to our cause and ready to go. I see cousins, and cousin’s in-laws. I see Jillian and Lee’s friends from Georgia. I see the doctor Debbie works for in Atlanta. I see old friends I have not seen in some time. Among those friends are 12 members of the “Class of 70″ from North Davidson High School. I graduated with that class and I know how old this group is. I am hopeful all will survive the 3 miles…..

Those of you that know me well also know that I cannot pass the opportunity to address a crowd. This morning was no exception. I thanked them for supporting our cause and that it meant the world to Debbie and I that they were here. I also told then we loved them. I would have said more but I was filled with emotion to overflowing and, well, we needed to get going.

During the 3 miles or so to Bethesda I filtered through the group and visited with everyone for a few minutes each, I think. Some I have not seen in the 7 years since we lived here. Others I had just visited with a day or two before. But all were welcome and gave Debbie and I strength that we would need for this day ahead.

TAP,TAP,TAP….., my son’s four iron strikes the asphalt as I walk. Each tap is another two steps. I do not know how many thousand steps I have taken so far but I do know there are very few remaining. The bottom of the golf club is pitted to the point that the “4″ is hard to see but that’s all right. I am sure Lee has a nicer set of irons now and a very nice course to play any time he wants.

Along the way, a cameraman set up his tripod and mounts a video camera in top. As the large group passes his location he films for the evening news. How cool is that? Jillian told me several times she would one day be on TV or in the movies. You made it Jillie, you made it. And because of your and Lee’s life, you just might inspire others to think of the choices they make in their lives. You certainly have inspired you mother and father to try to make a difference. By now the rain has stopped completely. But you know we had considered the rain as tears from haven anyway.

As we approach the church I pass Brian Grubb, (Chief Deputy Davidson County Sheriff’s Department), and we hug. We are only a few steps away from the cemetery. Our goal is in site. Big Sonny Williams steps up and grabs Debbie and I and nearly crushes us in a bear hug. It feels good. Some of the congregation is in front of the church and as we cross the lawn toward the cemetery, begin to clap. I am welling up again but I do not mind. We are joined now by Debbie’s mother Pat, and Corey and Lizzie. The five of us separate from the group and walk silently into the cemetery to the gravesite of Jillian and Lee. At this point the emotions are everywhere. We are overjoyed for the journey but heart broken for the reason. We hope Jillian and Lee are looking down with pride in their mother and father, but still wish they were standing by our side. Just then we are joined by Tim Legrie, Lee’s best friend from Georgia, who has driven in from Charleston, SC where he is attending school at the College of Charleston. Tim is in medical school with the intent of becoming a pharmacist. We spend maybe 5 minutes at the graveside in quite prayer with the tears flowing.

 As we gather our thoughts and prepare to leave the cemetery, two women that I do not know approach. We greet them and one tell us of her lost child and how proud she is of us for doing what we did for all grieving parents. I thank her for coming and invite her to attend the 11:00 service. I think, this is why we took the Walk to Remember, and God has sent this wonderful lady at this moment to say thanks. My cup is overflowing again but wait, there is more.

As we turn to walk back out of the cemetery, there are the 65 people that walked from North Davidson standing on either side of the walkway and cheering us on. We take the time to embrace each on as we pass through the crowd. Several among them have also lost children and we give them a special hug. At the end of the line is my sister, brother in law, nephew and niece. (They have just returned from the wedding of another nephew, Neil Taylor in Lenoir. Neil, we are sorry we missed your wedding. Mackenzie showed us the pictures later and it looks like a grand event. We wish you and Crystal only the best and hope to see you soon.) My sister Kim and I embrace and say what we always say to each other, I love you.

Next comes a brief interview by Fox News, who by this time has reset the camera on the lawn in front of the church. Debbie and I tell of the journey and why this is the path we took to reach out from our own darkness. We inform them of the support we have received for this walk. It is beyond our ability to believe what strength God has given us through this outpouring of kind thoughts and prayers from family, friends, and strangers. Their good will, will carry Debbie and I for a long while.

It’s almost 11:00 AM now and it is time to enter the church. I have been a member of Bethesda United Methodist for all of my 56 years and as we enter we see familiar faces everywhere. I think I shook more hand today than I have ever shook before. Shortly after the opening of the service, Debbie and I are asked to say a few words. How do you put into words what we are thinking right at this moment? Thank You seems so shallow and empty. There needs to be words that go beyond Thank You, but I can think of none right now. I ask the 65 that walk the final segment along with any grieving parents to stand and be recognized. You know, it seems so appropriate that on Mothers Day, the mothers that have given up the most, should be at the front of the line.

Tim Regan, a life long friend of our family, stands and sings Amazing Grace, (the new version), and Debbie and I can’t hold back the tears any longer. If you remember on that Mothers Day evening back in 2004 the students of Starr’s Mill High School stood on our front lawn and sang Amazing Grace, holding candles as the sun set. Again thank you Tim for your beautiful rendition. Then Melanie Edge sang a song written by a member in the congregation called Mama I Understand. Again it too was beautiful and touched our hearts. Melanie, you are carrying on the legacy of your mother, who I thought the world of.

Reverend Doug delivered the sermon on Adam, and the first mother, Eve. He is eloquent as always and really gets to the heart of the subject. Living in Georgia I do not get the chance to hear him every Sunday but when I do I always get a blessing.

After the service we gather at a local restaurant with family members, say our good-bys and depart for Georgia. This time the journey is in a car instead of on foot. How do I express what I am feeling now? I can only think of the lines I say at the end of every presentation I give.

“Don’t wake if I’m sleeping, for sometimes I dream…..And some of those dreams are of Jillian and Lee in Paradise…. And my heart leaps with joy…

But here in the waking world time can’t erase the memories,… and time can’t take away the pain….. It’s what we do with the time we have that makes a difference. So with Faith, and the Grace of God, the love of our family, the support of our friends, Debbie and I are trying to make that difference…. And as for me, I’m just going to take a walk….”

God Bless you all.

Debbie & Lee Wagner

May 10th

This morning I arrived back at North Davidson High School for a day of walking on the track with youth groups. Several different groups walked with me at several different times. In addition to the youth that walked with Debbie and I, there were adults as well. Throughout the day I saw many of our friends that were there to support and wish us well. Again if I named them all I would run out of space. How do we say thank you to so many that have prayed for us for so long? There is nothing we can do from here on that will equal the good will given us during this, our darkest hours.

But Debbie and I, with the grace of God, will continue to reach out in an attempt to make a difference, hoping someone will grab our hand, and allow God, through us, to guide them back to Him.

Sunday is arrival day at Bethesda and the emotions are peaking. We will leave North Davidson shortly after 9:00 AM and walk the 3.6 miles to the church. Upon arrival Debbie and I have ask the group to allow our family to go into the cemetery alone for a quite moment at Jillian and Lee’s Grave. After that we all are invited to attend the 11:00 service at Bethesda. Hope to see you all there.

376 down 4 to go

May 9th              

May 9th is the actual anniversary date of Jillian and Lee’s death so today I have been fighting my emotions all day long.   

The day begins near the Highway Patrol Station on South Main Street in Lexington, NC. After yesterday’s encounter with the Bonneville I welcome a sidewalk to walk on. First stop is at Smokey Joe’s for breakfast with my good friend Tom Hill. We are joined shortly by another friend, Penny Haines, (sorry Penny, I can not remember if your married name is Kennedy or Canady but I think those who know you will know who I am talking about). Penny walks with me up Main Street to Tedder Farm Equipment where we are greeted with some cold water. After that I walk back over to Davidson Funeral Home just off North Main Street to once again thank these kind people for all they did for Jillian and Lee and for my family four years ago. They are the best there is.

I start cutting through streets now to get over to Old Highway 52. This is the way to Welcome. Just a mile or so north of Lexington a van slows and a horn honks. It’s someone I have not seen in way too long. It’s Donnie McBride. Donnie and I worked together at Billings Freight Systems several years ago. We stopped at the intersection on Old 52 and City Lake Road and chatted for 30 minutes or so. Donnie, it was so nice to see you again.

After that visit it’s back on the road again. Within an hour of so I walk into Welcome, NC, past Welcome School and stop at Alexis Hinkle’s Antique Shop. Alexis is like a sister to me. I have known her as long as I have known anyone. Again we visit as old friends tend to do. We have to cut short the conversation not because we run out of things to say but because I need to continue the journey. Alexis, please send my best to Lee. I am sure he will be fine.

Next stop Dempsey Essick’s Gallery. Dempsey is an artist and today was open house at the Gallery. The place was packed but Dempsey took a minute to greet me and wish me well.

Then it’s on to Brad Lenard Builders just up the road where Brad and Linda are busy working in the office. Both are glad to see me and I am happy to see them. As with other stops I am offered and accept bottled water and again am on my way. A horns blows and it is Kenny Wagner my cousin. He hugs my neck and presses a donation to the Jillian and Lee Scholarship Fund into my hand.

As I get closer to North Davidson High School more people in cars recognize me and know why I am there so I am waving at people often. My emotions are again running high and I fight back tears of joy as the school is in site. The journey is within site of completion. I call Debbie and tell her I have made it. I can hardly speak.

Tonight I am honored at a state high school baseball playoff game at North Davidson. They have me stand and they say some very kind words about the journey and Jillian and Lee. North Davidson beat Butler 5-0.

Debbie arrived this evening. Her mother is with her with Corey and our grandbaby Lizzie. We are staying tonight at the home of Jim and Carol Wagner.

Tomorrow is a big day with a large group of youth from several churches and from the school walking on the track at North Davidson High School.

Total miles today 17!

350 down and 30 to go!

May 8th

I began today north of China Grove, NC and walked all the way to the Highway Patrol Station on South Main Street in Lexington, NC. As I walked through Salisbury, NC, I could not resist taking a two block detour and walk down by the Amtrak Station and watch a train go by, but more on that in a minute.

When I got back up on to Main Street in Salisbury I received a call from the folks at “The Salisbury Post” wanting to do an interview with me. We met shortly, along the street, and conducted the interview. Steve and Wayne, thank you both. I look forward to reading your article on Saturday afternoon.

A couple hours later I arrived in Spencer, NC and again could not resist walking through “The North Carolina Transportation Museum”. This is on the grounds of the old Spencer Yards of the Southern Railway. If you get a chance to visit this area, it is most interesting.

When I arrived at the Yadkin River Bridge on US 29 the roadway was too narrow to walk across. I called Craig Tedder, a friend of mine in Lexington and he called the Sheriff’s Department to see if they had anyone in the area that could help. But crime fighting being what it is they would be a while. So I called Bobby Smith at Horizon Logistics just south of Lexington and he came to the rescue. For his trouble I promised to visit his office later in the afternoon as I walked by. He picked me up on the Rowan side and dropped me off on the Davidson side.

About this time the phone rings again and it is “The Columbus Ledger Inquire” from Columbus, GA. This is the home town newspaper for Debbie, so I was excited to give them a phone interview as I walked along. The reporter’s name was Brad and again as with the others was very nice and I am sure will write a good article.

As soon as I finished the phone rang again and it is Fox News 8. They are scheduling to be in Welcome, NC to tape the walk either Saturday or Sunday for a story to air one of those evenings. I hope they can be there both days as I want them to see the outpouring of love and support Debbie and I have received during this journey. The momentum is building as the journey draws closer to destination. Even if we thought we were in control we know now that God’s hand is on our shoulder.

Just after Fox News is completed with their interview I had my second incident. This one was a little more that the one from Saturday of last week.

I am walking now on the shoulder of Old Salisbury Road facing the southbound traffic. Had I had my back to the traffic I would not be writing the blog tonight. I am approaching the intersection of Old Wesley Church Road which is about 50 yards in front of me. There is a car stopped to make a left hand turn on to Old Wesley Church Road when another car fails to stop and plows into the back of the stop car. This knocks said car into the southbound lane and into the path of a very large Bonneville. The Bonneville clips the front of the original car and the driver loses control and heads straight for me. Here I stand 50 yard from the action and the action is closing in on me. I start to run out into a grassy field to my left and Bonneville seems to be headed for the same spot. I run harder and the Bonneville missed me by a foot or so and comes to rest in the field near me. I have not run that hard in years or had a reason to run that hard.

I go to the Bonneville and ask the lady driving if they are all right. She says yes. Her teenage son says, “Man, you can move!”

I returned to the other two vehicles and all look to be OK. The Fire/Rescue/Police arrive and I depart on up the road. I call my friends at Horizon Logistics and they ride out to get me for a break at their office. After the accident I could a break. These folks are comprised of several of my friends from my days at Billings Freight Systems so I enjoyed the visit a lot.

Then from there it was on to the end of day destination and a pick up by my cousin Hinley Truluck  and his wife Christy. Yes his name is Hinley Truluck. It is not a spelling error regardless of what Spell Check says. The man’s name is Hinley Truluck. And if that is not enough, at one time there were two of them. Yes, his dad’s name was, you guessed it, Hinley Truluck.

Total miles today 24

333 miles down and 46 to go

May 7th

Harrisburg, NC to China Grove, NC a distance of 22 miles was just about my limit for today. The sun was beating me down pretty bad today. But all I have to do is remember the many words of encouragement that everyone has given and I am able to take that next step.

Mid morning I received a call from the Concord Independent Tribune wanting to know why I was walking through the area. We chatted by phone and they sent a photographer out to find me and make a few photos. In addition I was invited to stop by the newspaper office and sit down for an interview. They enticed me with the offer of bottled water and I could not resist. In a cool and comfortable conference room I told the Jillian and Lee story. The folks at the Concord Independent Tribune were most kind and very gracious. I look forward to reading the article that will come out in the Thursday edition. I am told we can go on line and read it then.

Total miles today 22

310 down and 76 to go

May 6th

Today I walked through Charlotte and on up toward Lowes Motor Speedway at Harrisburg, NC. Downtown Charlotte was yet another beautiful city, from the Bank of America Stadium, where the Carolina Panthers play to all the skyscrapers reaching for the heavens. And the construction cranes were everywhere. I walked up Tyron Street and was amazed at the beauty. Then I walked under a railroad bridge and it was as if I had crossed an international border. This brings to mind something I have observed the entire journey. It is not isolated to North Tryon Street but rural highways as well.

America is dirty and in need of a bath.

There is a sea of fast food containers, plastic water bottles, and just whole bags of garbage littering our otherwise beautiful country and what we use to refer to as “God’s Green Earth”. We should make cars with windows that do not roll down. Because if we can open the window we are going to get rid of our trash and let it become someone else’s problem.

Where has our self respect gone? When we are so special that we feel comfortable throwing our trash out on someone’s street or into their yard what else may we feel comfortable doing? You know respect for others is just a step away from respect for country, with respect for GOD not too many steps further.

There seems to be a whole generation in place now that’s all about “Me”. No one else matters, it is only what I want and need that is important. This generation knows no color and has no particular language, but cares only about themselves. How many steps away from this way of thinking is total chaos. Then how many steps from there is the collapse of America.

GOD, help us understand the need to respect others. Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

Who among us decided that logic was no longer necessary?

I don’t know how I got from trash on the highway to the collapse of our society. The sun was hot on top of my head today.

Total today 15 miles

288 down and 98 to go

May 5th

A special day today for sure. I began this morning south of Gastonia, NC and walked up US 29. As I walked past Essic Sports Shop I had to stop. You see, Francis Essic lived in Welcome, NC a long time ago and was a good friend of my Mom and Dad. At that time Francis was head basketball coach at North Davidson High School and President of the Welcome Civitans Club. After that he went on to be the head basketball coach at Wingate College, Phiffer University, and the Carolina Cougars of the old ABA League. Along the way he also managed to be President of Civitans International.

I walked into the store and was directed to David, (Francis’ son in law). When I told him who I was he said Francis was at home but he would get him on the phone. When he came to the phone and I said I was C.L. and Jean Wagner’s son he said “You must be Lee”.  He asked me what I was doing in Gastonia but before I could tell him he said just wait for him at the store. He and Mary Lou were five minutes away. When they arrived it was like seeing old friends. They learned about Jillian and Lee and why I was walking, and I learned all about what has been happening in their lives all these years. As we said our good bys Francis said these parting words. “I see Jean and C.L. raised a good son”.

Words like that inspire me to take that next step, and the next, and the next.

Around noon I am walking through Lowell, NC and came upon a small car wash and detail shop right next to the street. As I walked by I saw a man sitting just inside the door. He sees me and shouts out to ask if I want a drink of cold water. Of course I say yes. This gentleman turns out to be Scooter Coleman, the proprietor of SCOOTERS CAR WASH & DETAIL. Mr. Scooter asked me where I am walking to and again I tell him about Jillian and Lee. As we chatted he asked me if he could give me some money. I said no. He gave me his card and wrote down his cell number and said if you need anything or you fall down and need help you call me and I will come help you. Mr. Scooter asked me could he pray for me and my journey. I said yes. He then asked could he pray right now. Again my answer was yes. He gets his helper to stop working and come over. I forgot to tell you Mr. Scooter has a walker in front of him but to pray he stands up. So picture this. Here we are inside this two bay car wash holding hands and Mr. Scooter began to pray. I will remember his words forever.

“Lord, look out for this man and protect him on his journey. May what he is doing inspire others. And Lord, I know his son and daughter are with you and looking down with pride in their dad. May you continue to allow him to spread your love to every one he meets.”

When he finished my tears were flowing and I could not speak. I could only shake his big hand and turn and walk away.

You know God is everywhere. And sometimes you don’t have to look that hard to find him.

I also received calls today from dear friends wishing me well. Barry, Janine, Steve, Thanks so much for your kind words of encouragement. And Janine, Debbie and I are going to take you up on dinner in NYC one of these days. Maybe when we appear on a Network Morning Show in the city. You never know, you just never know…..

Total miles today 23

273 down and 113 to go

May 4th

This morning I had the pleasure of addressing the junior and senior high classes at Assurance United Methodist Church in Huntersville, NC. A group of about 15 teenagers were kind enough to sit and listen to the Jillian and Lee story. I talked about what happened to my children and choices youth make. Assurance UMC has a bright future spreading the word with this youth group and the leadership of Margie and Roger.

I also attended the 11:00 service conducted by the Rev. Chris Westmoreland and heard a very “current events” sermon on Religions of the world. This week’s focus was on Islam and I learned some things I did not know.

By the way Assurance United Methodist Church had a website that you can visit at http://www.assuranceumc.org

After lunch we returned to Kim and Jeff Tennant’s home in Mountain Island Lake just north of Charlotte. Kim, (my younger sister), and I went walking and talking for just over 4 miles. Jeff prepared steaks for dinner and I got to visit with Debbie and Ron Heinrich. Debbie is Jeff’s sister.

Tomorrow I walk through Gastonia toward Charlotte.

Total for today 4 miles

250 down and 130 to go

May 3rd

Gaffney, SC was today’s starting point. After walking well over 200 miles of the journey I had my first incident.

Walking along U S 29 about 8 miles north of Gaffney I am facing the southbound traffic flow. On a long straight stretch I see them coming. An old red Chevy Vega type car is swerving back and forth. As it approached the right tires are off the pavement and about a foot into the grass. I am walking about 5 feet off the road surface. As the car got closer a teenager stuck his head and shoulders out of the front passenger window and hurled a beer bottle my way.If the kid had spent a little time in organized sports instead of a tavern he may have developed a better arm. Let’s just say the pitch was high and away to a point where I never had to break stride.

Remember the old saying,” If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”? Well the Red Vega turned around and sped back up the northbound lane. It was only a minute or so until here they came again down the southbound lane and headed right for me. This time they must have run out of beer bottles, because all they wanted to do was shout out greetings and wave at me. Of course the greetings were not something I can repeat here and they did not use all their fingers when they waved. Maybe they did not have all their fingers. This would explain the pitching problems described above. Any way after the second pass without rattling me they disappeared without further incident.

You know, we as older adults wonder what kids like these are thinking, or are they thinking at all. Is this something they are bragging about tonight to their other drunken friends? Or do they reconsider and say, “What was I thinking?”

These are God’s children too. But like Fire Ants and House Flies, we sometimes wonder what was GOD thinking when he created these things?

Later in the day I walked up on a Dairy Queen at a truck stop near Grover North Carolina and just could not walk any further. I ordered a Chocolate Brownie Sundae and a Bottled Water. The clerk asked me why I was walking.  I told her my story and when the order was complete there was no charge. I thanked them and sat down to enjoy my sundae.

A near by truck driver over heard my story and asked for more details. He and I spent the next 30 minutes talking about my family and his. The driver, a Mr. Wendell Harrison from Martinsville, VA was a most interesting man. I ask him how many children he had. The answer was eight, three boys and five girls. He was a career man in the Navy where he met his pediatrician wife and well he now drives a truck to pay for college tuition. Several kids are at UVA and a least one is at VT.

We talked about GOD. We talked about kids. We talked about our families. We talked about old cars. We talked as if we had known each other for more than just a few minutes. Thank you Mr. Harrison. You are the type of people that make my journey a lot easier, and worth while.

Total miles today 22

246 down and 134 to go

May 2nd

Today I started at St Francis Hospital on the west side of Greenville, SC. Wow, has that West End changed. I stopped at the new baseball park and also at a statue Joe Jackson, better known as “Shoeless Joe Jackson”. I did not know he was from Greenville.

The Reedy River area along South Main is just plain beautiful. As I walked I met various people and we talked about what I am doing. Everyone wished me well and promised to pray for me and Debbie. You know, I am walking in memory of Jillian and Lee. I am walking for grieving parents. I am walking to reach out to youth. Yet GOD is sending me so many blessings that my cup runth over.

I ended up in down town Greer, SC a distance of 23 miles total walked today.

224 down and 156 to go

  

May 1st

Today I traveled from Greer, SC to Spartanburg, SC, walking up Wade Hampton Blvd or U S 29. The starting point was near where I once had a firework stand. That’s was during a time in the 80’s when I lived in Taylors, SC. Our daughter Jillian was born here in Greenville and Debbie and enjoyed our time here.

As I walked I met a man running a weed eater in the median. He shouted to me that he would trade his weed eater for my golf club. I told him I could have used it back down the road. We chatted and I told him my story of walking from Peachtree City, GA to Welcome, NC. He wished me well and I was on my way again.

Later in the day I stopped at a Waffle House just before a point where I26 crosses over U S 29. A man in the next booth wearing a fireman’s “T” shirt ask me where I had walked from. Again I told him the story of Jillian and Lee. When he got up to leave he wished me well and said God Bless you. When it came time to pay my bill there was none. The fireman have covered it. I ask if anyone knew his name and someone said “Roger”. So Roger, thank you, and God Bless You for youe kind act.

Total miles today 21

201 down 199 to go

April 30th  Easley SC

Today I walked through Easley, SC. Easley is the home of one Joe Burgess, the “Wholesale Fireworks King” of South Carolina and an old golfing buddy of mine. Joe and Kathy took me in and we spent hours talking about old times and having dinner. The dinner was very good but the talk was even better. We met a lot of fine folks from their church and I have new people praying for me and the journey. Every day GOD has his hand on my shoulder and HIS wind at my back. Who could possible fail with a coach like that?Tonight I am staying at Dick Rowland’s house in Greer, SC. His son Bruce picked me up just after 9:00 PM tonight and brought me here. In the morning I start again in Greer and continue north.

Total miles for today were 9

180 down and 200 to go.

April 26th & 27th

This weekend I walked the Silver Comet Trail with First Dallas UMC. My old friend, Rev. Steve Schofield, and I spent the day walking and taking as old friends do. All the World’s problems are now resolved.Patrick McLaughlin, a dear friend and member of Brooks UMC, ask me if he could go with me since he was unable to attend the week before at Starr’s Mill. He was a great addition to our small group and had no difficulty keeping up with Steve, Chris, and I.Counting Sunday I completed another 30 miles. I walked in Laredo, TX and Monterrey, MX this past week as well for a grand total for the week of 61 miles

171 down and 209 to go

Saturday & Sunday April 19th & 20th

This past Saturday and Sunday were special to me.  On Saturday I walked with the youth and a group of adults from Brooks United Methodist Church. At on time there were more than 20 people walking with me on the track at Starr’s Mill High School. Several people touched my heart. Hank Myers, who, not so long ago, had serious knee issues made 40 laps, (10 miles). Many of the youth exceeded that number. My little 3 year old granddaughter, Lizzie, made a couple of laps. Then there was Gary Cooper.  As those that know Mr. Gary understand, he had difficulty getting around but Saturday morning, with a cane in each hand; he walked down the stadium steps, onto the track, and completed three laps. You could have timed him with a calendar but that was not the point. He showed his support in a way that far exceeded his ability. God shown through Mr. Gary Saturday morning. As the day wore on and I walked lap after lap, the stiffness in my legs begged me to stop. But I thought of Mr. Gary and made another lap. All total I completed 84 laps on Saturday and another 40 on Sunday for a total of 31 miles this weekend.

110 miles down and 270 to go 

SATURDAY APRIL 12th & SUNDAY APRIL 13TH

Due to scheduling conflict First Dallas UMC had to change their youth walk date to April 26th. This weekend I walked alone in and around Starr’s Mill High School.
I walked a total of 23 miles this weekend.To date I have walked 79 miles79 down 301 miles to go

By Lee Wagner

SUN APRIL 6th

The peak of emotions occured today as I addressed the congregation, consisting of my friends and family, at Bethesda United Methodist Church. This is my home church and the final destination of my journey. The prayers, love, and support present gave me strength to deliver my message to a full house. I met 3 different people that have lost children within the congregation today. We spoke briefly, shared our grief and promised to meet again on Mothers Day. Some of them will walk the final keg with me. This is the very thing we want this journey to do. God is guiding our steps. 

SATURDAY APRIL 5th

This morning I walked alone in the rain around the Starr’s Mill High School Complex and the Chimney’s subdivision, logging a total of 10 miles. Coupled with the evening walks I did during to week, I have completed a total of 56 miles so far.

56 down and 324 to go

SATURDAY MARCH 29th

This day began with yet another emotional opening. Debbie and I are introduced at a very large track meet at Starr’s Mill just after the National Anthem. As the Jillian and Lee Wagner story comes out over the PA system, Debbie and I begin to walk a ceremonial lap on the track. What a tribute set up by our friends at Starr’s Mill High School. I am joined today in my walk by Rev. Derek Porter of Brooks UMC. We spend the first couple of hours walking around the grounds of the school. After much walking and even more conversation, we head down a cart path toward Brooks. As we cross GA highway 85 at the old Starr’s Mill, we are joined by Coney Mason. The three of us walk the final 4 miles to the church. There we are greeted by many youth and other members of the church, followed by a Pizza Lunch on the grounds.Again, another great day in the journey.Counting the miles I walked Friday evening and the one I walked Sunday afternoon, I have logged 32 miles so far.32 down and 348 to go.

THURSDAY MARCH 27th

Today at Starr’s Mill High School we had the dedication in the Wagner Courtyard marking the start of the journey. After an opening prayer by Rev. Steve Schofield, many kind words were spoken by Principal Toney, Assistant Principal Davis, HOSA Sponsor Mrs. Phillips, and Fayette County Assistant Superintendent Sam Sweat.When my time came, I spoke to the gathered students about the accident itself and the choices youth make. I closed by saying that time does not erase memories. Nor can time heal the pain. It’s what you do with the time you have that makes the difference. This is the core of what Debbie and I are trying to do with this journey, to make a difference.As soon as the dedication was complete I begin my walk. With students from the HOSA Club at Starr’s Mill we started walking on the track at the school. I completed seven miles this afternoon.

7 miles down, 373 to go

Lee Wagner