Before David and I ran through Collingswood, New Jersey, it was just another town like the hundreds of other towns we ran through as we traversed the USA.
Or so we thought.
But now that we’ve finished our six month, 3000 mile run, Collingswood stands out in a remarkable way: Collingswood is the birthplace of GMO Free NJ. And from what we’ve seen, Barbara Thomas planted and nourished the initial seeds that grew into New Jersey’s vibrant, grass roots GMO Free movement.
While David and I were busy running across hilly Pennsylvania, Barbara was busy planning an event for our arrival in Collingswood. The Big Day started out with a GMO Free event in Philadelphia’s Independence Square, an event that I will always cherish. Of course, Barbara was present in Philly showing her support.
Following that event, David and I made our way across the Ben Franklin Bridge, accompanied for the first time since we started our run on January 18th in Huntington Beach, California, by two friends and photographers running by our sides documenting the day’s run: Kris’ sister, Julie, shot stills with her camera, and Karl Stark, son of Karen and Ron Stark, with GMO Free PA, shot video with the Go Pro.
Camden is the first town on the Jersey side of the bridge and it has a lot of character. Some people will view my use of the world ‘character’ as a euphemism for crime and poverty. No doubt, those things are present, but it’s also got large artistic murals that celebrate the beauty of the local people—many of whom we talked with as they were seated on porch chairs, enjoying the scenery and cooling themselves outside of their un-air conditioned apartments.
One man, in particular, stands out in Camden. When we handed him a GMO Free USA seed packet, it was as if we lit a fire under him. He talked at length about the evils of the GMO Empire. He said he’s opening a restaurant in Camden and he’s going to do his best to prepare GMO Free meals for his customers.
After Camden we only had a few more miles before arriving in Collingswood. Kris called me and said a crowd had gathered and they were anxious to meet us. When we finally ran down the sidewalk approaching the library, the crowd cheered, whistled, and clapped. Once the initial greetings were done, we assembled on the steps of the library.
Commissioner Joan Leonard praised us for our run and mission, and then she presented us with a small clock, modeled after the same design as the clock on the street. She also gave us a check donated by a local bank. Needless to say, I found the moment to be extremely validating.
Only our run launch back in California compares with a similar level of enthusiasm and support. What made this event even more special was the fact that Commissioner Leonard was acting in the capacity as Commissioner during the event. Her courage served as a symbol for all the government leaders across the U.S.A. that are beginning to stand up and serve their constituents by working for GMO labeling and GMO free zones.
Barbara continues to be one of our biggest supporters, something we deeply appreciate. But I want to repeat today what I said in Collingswood. We are running on the backs of the GMO Free leaders who have been advocating for clean, healthy, and natural food for decades.
If our run has any significance at all, it is significant because of the great and challenging work many other people have done prior to our run, during our run, and continue to do now that our run has ended.
That said, when we ran through Collingswood, there was a special synergy present. We are honored for the part we were able to play at that synergy, and we are deeply grateful for the people of New Jersey (and Pennsylvania) who worked so hard to make it possible.
GMO free blessings to all!
Brett and David Wilcox completed their transcon 3,000 mile Run For a GMO Free USA on July 19, 2014. Their run expenses far exceed donations received. You can help change that fact by making a donation of any amount through their Indiegogo campaign fundraiser.