A North Carolina man who has spent the last four months walking across America to raise heart health awareness made a stop in Payson this week.
In 2009, Colon Terrell discovered he had 95-100 percent blockage in all the arteries attached to the front of his heart, despite being a former marathoner and living a healthy lifestyle.
Doctors performed open-heart, five-artery, bypass surgery.
It changed his life.
Terrell learned genetics and stress doomed him to heart disease. Because of that, he has changed his eating habits and added exercise to his regimen.
He has also become a crusader for exercise.
“For every hour you exercise, you extend your life by two hours,” he said, “Just 45 minutes four to five times per week is all you need.”
To celebrate his survival, raise awareness and funds to fight heart disease, he decided to walk from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to Santa Monica, California.
He started in March of this year and plans to finish by Labor Day.
“I forgot to consider I’ll be going through the Mojave Desert during the hottest part of the year,” said Terrell as he talked about the last leg of his journey.
His wife, Brenda and their little dog, Zuzu follow him in their RV.
“My normal day starts at 5:15 a.m. when I arise to get the kinks out of the old body and prepare for my morning walk,” he wrote on his blog. He tries to start his walks between 6:30 and 6:45 a.m and depending on the heat will walk four hours or more.
Fans and family keep track of his progress through his Web site: www.hearttrekusa.com.
Terrell has interactive maps, pictures, and a running commentary about all of the places and people he has met.
“Another highlight of this journey has been the people we meet,” Colon wrote, “In the last couple of days we met two people that reminded us of why I am walking – to promote heart health.”
In this story, he and his wife had stopped for a treat at the Pie-O-Neer restaurant in Pie Town, N.M. They struck up a conversation with a couple. The conversation quickly moved into why and what he was doing in the little town to the personal experience the couple had had with heart disease.
The wife admitted she was overweight and knew she ran the risk of heart disease, especially since she had lost her father to a heart attack when he was 48 and an uncle when he was in his late 30’s.
The next person Colon and Brenda met was Don Morris, when he gave them permission to park their RV on his property. Although wiry and full of energy, Morris suffers diabetes and has had three heart attacks. His life has not been easy besides his health. He cared for his paraplegic wife for 26 years before she passed. Then in 2009, while riding on a motorcycle with his fiancée, the bike became entangled in a tarp that had fallen off a vehicle, causing the bike to cartwheel down the road. His fiancée died in the accident and Morris barely survived. To honor his survival, he decided to make the most of his life, so he took a radical approach to his health. He’s thrown away the insulin and needles, taken up a strict diet of fish and vegetables and intense physical work around his ranch. Colon says he seems to be thriving despite going against doctor’s orders.
“While Don’s shunning of medicines may not be recommended, you have to admire his advocacy of a healthy diet and regular physical activity,” wrote Colon.
Colon already looks forward to the completion of his walk. With less than 500 miles left to complete his bi-coastal journey, Colon has requested e-mails from anyone who would like to attend his celebration in Santa Monica.
Just like his surgery, this walk has changed his life.
“After my trek is complete, I will continue to walk and exercise every day — although not at 20 miles per day. I must also watch my diet ... as Brenda and I can attest from what we have seen on this trip, there is too much to see, too much to do and too much to live for to not do everything possible to protect your health and extend your life.”