Jeff Blair, 66, will make the 150-mile walk from the Indiana-Illinois border at Dyer, Ind., to the Indiana-Ohio border east of Fort Wayne from April 25 to May 5. As president of the Indiana Lincoln Highway Association, Blair says, “Life is a journey – each step or mile is a memory worth saving.”
The walk will follow the 1928 alignment of the historic Lincoln Highway. Along the way, Blair plans to stop to meet with city leaders, take pictures of interesting sites, eat lunch and dinner at places with significant history, and educate the public about Alzheimer’s and the Lincoln Highway through daily entries to his blog page.
“I grew up in Goshen, one block off Lincolnway East, but did not understand its significance as the nation’s first coast-to-coast road until I became a member of the Lincoln Highway Association,” explained Blair. “The LHA nationally and the Indiana LHA are both not-for-profit organizations that are doing great things to commemorate this neat old road, beautify it, remind us all of the part it played in developing the auto industry and America’s tourism business, educating our youth to its fascinating history and its ties to our 16th U.S. President, and more.”
Later, Blair said it dawned on him that a disease that affected his family — although seemingly unrelated to the history road — actually have something in common. “My father’s-in-law Alzheimer’s and the Lincoln Highway … both relate to memories,” he explained.
“About six years ago I got interested in Alzheimer’s as my father-in-law was deteriorating mentally. Watching his mental faculties erode a little at a time was tough, but got me to studying ways we might slow down the onset or progression of Alzheimer’s in any of us through puzzles, training, exercise, music and mind stretching games.”
The purpose of Blair’s walk is to raise funds, which will be divided equally between the Indiana Lincoln Highway Association and the Alzheimer’s Association.
The walk will commemorate, according to Blair, “The great memories of the glory of the Lincoln Highway as it stretched from Times Square in New York City to Lincoln Park in San Francisco … and the wonderful memories that my father-in-law shared with us of his life, plus the ones we have of being with him over the past 50-plus years.”
Blair is accepting pledges per mile or a total amount for the walk. Pledges or checks should be made out to the Indiana Lincoln Highway Association and mailed to 402 W. Washington St., South Bend, IN 46601. Fifty percent of each donation will be forwarded to the Alzheimer’s Association. Both groups qualify under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Blair has also developed a website to elaborate more on his reasons for walking and to accept pledges. He is also inviting interested persons to walk with him for a few hours or more, as long as they represent pledges they have gathered totaling at least $100.
For more information, visit Blair’s blog at blairwalk.com.