When we initially planned our route to run across the USA, we chose Atlantic City, New Jersey, as our final destination. Karen Stark with GMO Free PA and Barbara Thomas with GMO Free NJ didn’t want to step on our blistered toes, but they said that Ocean City would provide us with a more enthusiastic welcome. We told them we didn’t know one New Jersey city from another. Timbuktu, New Jersey, would work for us if it worked for them.
As it turns out, beyond “working,” ending our run in Ocean City was pure inspiration. Thanks to a phone call or two from Donna Conner, our last night’s house host, professional photographer, and personal friend of food critic and radio show host, Ed Hitzel, we were scheduled to be on Ed’s show in Linwood on our final day’s run, just six miles shy of our Ocean City destination.
The run would be a piece of cake: 13 miles to Linwood, then another six miles to the ocean. All we needed to do was follow the blue line on my phone’s map. Easy enough, right? Wrong. I took a wrong turn that turned our 13-mile run to the radio station into 15 miles. No problem. We covered the distance and arrived at the station with three minutes to airtime. Donna photographed the last few steps of our run to the station. She also joined us in the recording studio and took some great shots during the interview. David, Jenna, and I had a good time with Ed, his co-host, Pastor Dave Delaney, and two other guests.
Following the radio show, Ron Stark joined us for our final six mile run to Ocean City. As we ran along a beautiful bike path, Ron told us that Ocean City is a “dry town.” No sale of alcohol is permitted. He wasn’t the first to tell me that, but I was still in shock. Donna had explained over an amazing late night dinner the night before that Atlantic City had enjoyed many years as a gambling and drinking boom town, but with gambling sites popping up all over the East coast and on-line, Atlantic City was in decline.
Ocean City, however, had built itself as a family friendly town and destination, and as such, it’s thriving.
When we arrived at the World War Memorial Bridge we met Clint, our personal motorcycle riding police escort. Kris’s sister, Julie, pedaled down the bridge wielding a camera and a Go Pro.
Shortly after starting up the bridge, a group of local runners joined us. And then Kris joined in, something she had been unable to do during our six months on the road because she was always occupied with the truck, trailer, meals, shopping, laundry, logistics, phone contacts, finances, etc. You get the picture, Kris was one busy woman and our run would not have been possible without her presence!
Our run through the Ocean City streets was certainly a highlight of the entire run. As was the clapping and cheering crowd awaiting our arrival on the boardwalk. Of course, the crowd had been informed of our arrival and had also received GMO Free USA seed packets.
Barbara Thomas with GMO Free NJ graciously introduced us and mentioned that we still need help covering the considerable costs of our transcontinental run. Karen Stark with GMO Free PA presented us with beautiful flower bouquets including a dozen red roses for Kris in honor of our 25th wedding anniversary. Yes, we finished our run on our 25th wedding anniversary! (Thank you, Karen, for taking care of details that I clearly missed!)
We said a few words, then headed to the beach to complete our six month, nearly 3,000 mile Run For a GMO Free USA.
We owe the deepest debt of gratitude to many, many people—people who enriched our run and mission in countless ways. More on that later, but for now:
Thanks to all of you! Thanks for your commitment to a GMO Free USA and world. And as always, Organic Blessings to You!
Our run is finished, but our work and common mission continues. For the sake of our future, our children, and the Earth we share, let’s make it happen!
We completed our Run For a GMO Free USA on July 19, 2014, but we’ll be paying off our expenses for a very long time. We deeply appreciate donations of any size made either at RunningTheCountry.com/donate or to our Indiegogo campaign titled Help The Wilcox Family Finish Strong.