When Ron Brown gave up cycling as too dangerous, he began walking. With the encouragement of his wife, Kathy, a serious walker, he was soon logging five miles a day.
And now, he sometimes walks a great deal more than that. In April and May of this year, the 66-year-old former Lutheran pastor spent the better part of two weeks walking from South Carolina to North Carolina to raise money and awareness for LSC’s Love One Another campaign. (Ron was featured on the cover of June Voices.)
He called the walk “Newberry to Salisbury,” and you have to admit the phrase does have a nice ring to it. Ron averaged about 20 miles a day, spending the night at the homes of friends and family members, in a church basement, a tent, and one night, a hotel.
Ron prepared for the journey by using Google Maps and driving his route ahead of time to get an idea of what he was in for. The weather cooperated, and the only tough spot was a place near Huntersville where red clay stuck to his shoes and made for heavy walking.
Near Sharon, S.C., Ron was joined for six miles by LSC development associate Ray Mohrmann, a former Lutheran pastor, and me, Katie Scarvey, because I can’t say no to a hiking adventure.
Ron ended his journey at the Trinity Oaks community after a short (for him) leg of 12 miles. Residents and staff members greeted him with refreshments and were rewarded with a song – Ron totes a light travel ukulele when he hikes. After boxing up some cookies for him to enjoy later when he recovered his appetite, I shuttled Ron back to South Carolina.
As a fundraiser, Brown is low key. He simply made a network of Lutherans aware of his journey and hoped they’d contribute. Of course donations from other denominations were welcome as well. Brown spent one night at a Baptist church and talked to the congregants about his walk. He was happy to learn that some of the giving envelopes he passed out there were returned.
Over the past five years Ron has made long-distance walks for various worthy causes. His first walk, in 2015, raised money for a Latino congregation in South Carolina. His walks have also raised money for water missions in Charleston, the Shriners hospital in Greenville, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s World Hunger campaign.
Raising money for the Shriners was personal for Brown. As a boy, one of his legs was shorter than the other. To correct that, he was in and out of Shriners hospitals for various surgeries and procedures. At 14, Ron was in a body cast for three months and took advantage of that time by learning to play the guitar.
Brown, who says he grew up unchurched, eventually found his way to the Lutheran denomination and began his pastoral journey in southeastern Georgia, serving three county churches. He later served in Lexington, South Carolina, for three years before becoming chaplain at a nursing center in White Rock for 12 years. After pastoral stints in Charleston and Columbia, he worked at the S.C. Department of Mental Health as a chaplain before he retired, a challenging assignment, to be sure.
During the six miles Ray and I walked with Ron, we experienced his warmth, sense of humor, and wonderful curiosity about life. When I shuttled him back to North Carolina, we chatted about history and literature. Ron is a joy: warm, witty, and wise. Funny how so many LSC supporters seem to share those qualities!