NEW YORK, NY -- Stepping off at New York City’s Chelsea Piers, Deb Walters, 63, a grandmother of four, exclaimed, “450 miles – only 2,050 miles to go.” Walters is kayaking all the way to Guatemala City, Guatemala – all on her own. She set off from Maine in July and after 39 days on her solo kayaking mission she stopped off in New York City to get some rest before she sets sail again on Monday. At this rate, she’s expected to arrive in May 2015.
Walters has been planning the trip for two years and is raising awareness for Safe Passage, or Camino Seguro in Spanish, a non-profit based in Maine.
Nine years ago, Walters went on a volunteer trip with members of Maine Rotary Clubs to visit the massive garbage dump in Guatemala City. Her visit to the dump is what inspired her more than 2,500 mile journey from her home to Central America.
“I met the families that support themselves by scavenging the garbage dumps and they were working so hard and wanted their children to have a better life," said Walters. “I’m raising not only awareness, but also raising funds to add additional grades to the schools in the garbage dump district. I want to raise enough money to add 3rd grade in 2015 and 4th grade in 2016.”
For over a month, Walters has been paddling for two to seven hours alone in the water facing rough seas and high winds. She’s met some navigational challenges and shoulder injuries along the way, but what’s kept her going is her mission to get children from the garbage dump to the classroom.
“They demonstrate that with guts and perseverance, ordinary people like me can do anything. I want to show that if I keep persevering day after day, I can get from Maine to Guatemala. I wanted to do something to help support them.”
So far, Walter’s expedition has raised over $60,000 for Safe Passage and she is confident she’ll reach her goal of $150,000.
“Sí se puede," Walters said.
--Magdalene Castro, Telemundo.