Monday, March 23, 2009

CROP Walk Durham

Sunday we attended the 2009 Durham CROP Walk as part of the Syngenta team - led proudly by Team Captain Ashley! For those who haven't attended one of these events, the CROP Walk is put on by Church World Service to raise awareness and fund projects that address hunger problems in over 80 countries. Participants walk approximately five miles to empathize with those on our planet who unfortunately, experience at least that length of a walk every day just to find food and clean water. The Durham event takes place annually at Duke University, where we walk from West to East Campus and back (link to route map).

Of course, since we were going, the dogs were going (any walking species is welcome as long as you've got poop bags). Not to make light of the destitution that this event represents, but Cooper couldn't walk five miles a day just for a meal. Nonetheless, he attended, as did Mattie and Arnold, who had no problem whatsoever. Arnold even made a new friend, as he is apt to do with small children. Mattie wore her backpack proudly.

The Syngenta team had at least a dozen four legged friends, as well as 35-40 people in attandance. This is a true community-wide event, as you can tell from the official website. Several churches, community service groups, Boy and Girl Scouts, the Durham Bulls' mascot (Wool E. Bull for the uninitiated), and corporate teams made up a mass of people covering the entire front lawn of Duke Chapel. Overall, we think this CROP Walk had about 4000 participants and totaled close to $200,000 in fundraising in Durham alone. Not too shabby, Durham.

The event was fun, and kudos to my amazing wife for a job well done in organizing the Syngenta team and exceeding their fundraising goal! Even better, we were the only team with neon yellow t-shirts, so we would have been visible even if 1.) Cooper's stumpy little legs had given out, leaving us stranded near dusk or 2.) accidentally wandered into a land of giants who needed some people to serve as human tennis balls. Always prepared, those scientists.

After finishing the CROP walk (which, by the way, is an acronym for Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty), we retired to Parker and Otis, a fantastic local restaurant near Brightleaf Square in downtown Durham. Ashley chose the site for their delicously simple food and dog-friendly back porch. Food was delicious, and we ended up with about 36 extra sandwiches (currently sitting in our fridge) because so few people stopped by after the walk. We didn't intend to have this much food left over, but several passers-by rebuffed our free sandwich offers (side note to snooty "vegetarians" - you can't think about taking a turkey sandwich, and then decide to turn it down because it has bacon on it. Meat is meat, so just tell me you don't like bacon or something like that). Anyways, if anyone else is ever in Durham, you should go to Parker and Otis to eat and to check out their small shop. They've got a little bit of everything and many unique food items.

The excess food got me thinking about the strange juxtaposition of modern western (and American) culture. We drove fifteen miles to walk five, and then celebrated that by not only eating a full meal but going home with enough food to feed a small village. Even in our efforts to give this to someone else, we were rejected. I bring this up not mock the tremendous efforts of those in our community that truly care and put on a great event, but to put into perspective the great number of blessings we have been given. We (friends and family) are very lucky.

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