A familiar face returns to the Toledo area July 27 when Jeff Alt, the man who has walked hundreds of miles -- including more than 2,000 on the Appalachian Trail -- to raise money for Sunshine, Inc. of Northwest Ohio.
Mr. Alt will sign copies of the audio version of his book, A Walk for Sunshine from 4 to 6 p.m. at Walt Churchill's Market in Maumee. When the Sylvania Northview High School graduate comes, he'll bring with him a firm reminder of what hikers are likely to encounter on some of the nation's trails: a black bear.
Have no fear, though. The new mascot for Sunshine's annual Walk, 5K Run and Roll will be a man in a costume who will be here to meet those who support Sunshine, located on Maumee Western Road in Maumee.
Part of the fun will be learning who is dressed in the costume as Sunshine's new mascot and the unveiling of the character's name. This is the 15th year for Sunshine's annual Walk, Run and Roll, set for Sept. 8 at Monclova Elementary School on Monclova Road.
The annual event is a key fund-raiser for Sunshine. The idea was developed by Mr. Alt, 45, a speech language therapist in Cincinnati elementary schools. His chosen profession was inspired by his growing up with a brother, Aaron, who has cerebral palsy and who cannot talk.
Aaron Alt, who has lived in the home for about 20 years, is among the Sunshine residents who take part in the walk, run, and roll. The walks started with a group getting together to walk with Jeff Alt in the woods.
"That sparked the annual event, and each year since I have come to town and hosted the event," Jeff Alt said.
The group has grown to about 400 participants who include Aaron Alt and other Sunshine residents. The activity has come a long way from participants taking the university/parks trail. Now their trek is on the Wabash Cannonball Trail.
In 1998, it took Mr. Alt nearly five months to make the 2,160-mile expedition on foot on the Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine, in the name of charity.
"One person with an idea that takes the initiative can lift others up with that idea," he said. "This has snowballed into something way bigger than that one person; it's so far beyond me."
Participants in his effort have walked and run about 12,500 miles combined. Some of those miles were completed with his wife Beth, with whom he traveled 55 miles along the east coast of Ireland when their daughter was a toddler. Speaking of his children, Mr. Alt takes a dim view of the computer age, which he thinks contributes to childhood obesity.
Wanting to make sure his children, ages 7 and 5, "knew there was fun to be had when they are unplugged," Mr. Alt aimed to make sure his children would know and enjoy the outdoors before they were introduced to computers.
Contact Rose Russell at email@example.com or 419-724-6178.