Step by Step, Volunteer Walks 'Around the World'

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Visitors to Side Cut have likely seen Duane Whitmire in his bright yellow Volunteer Trail Patrol t-shirt, patrolling the parks to provide customer service and a friendly smile. Duane and his VTP partner, fellow Metroparks Member and neighbor, Ray Farris, give their time and talents to help keep the park clean, safe and natural.

For Duane, each of the 14,000 steps he averaged per day over the decade he has volunteered also represented progress toward a goal he achieved this month – to walk 24,901 miles, a distance equal to the circumference of the Earth at the equator.

“I was a runner when I was younger,” said Duane, 74, “I don’t run anymore, but I still like to be out. My undergrad degree as in earth science. I love nature, and being a VTP is perfect for me because I can be outdoors and get my steps in.”

About half the six-miles per day he walks are in the Metroparks (Duane and partner Ray also patrol together at Farnsworth and Bend View). The rest are the combined total of all his steps, starting with “about a mile every morning before breakfast.”

“Even in his basement,” Ray interjected. Duane explained that in inclement weather, he gets his steps in on a treadmill.

Duane, who holds a Ph.D. in higher education administration, retired 17 years ago as Registrar at Bowling Green State University, where his wife of 53 years, Diane, also worked. Twelve years ago, he began keeping track of his steps, counted on a FitBit. A couple years later, he did the math and determined that if he kept up his pace, he would log the equivalent of the equatorial circumference of the planet in a dozen years, give or take.

Some 57,720,518 steps later, despite a two-week hiatus following heart surgery, he achieved his goal on September 11 – four months ahead of schedule.

“My wife baked me a cake in the shape of the Earth with ’24,901’ written on it,” said the father of 3 sons and grandfather of 10.

So, what do you do for an encore after walking “around the world”? Keep walking.

Duane is still putting one foot in front of the other toward a new goal of walking half way around the Earth by his 80th birthday. That’s another 28,860 steps, or 12,450.5 miles.

Pedestrian Memories

While about half of Duane’s walking miles over the last 10 years have been at Side Cut and other Metroparks, his legs have taken him to many memorable destinations.

Best place walked – The walking/running deck of a Disney Cruise Line ship

Most beautiful place walked – Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Most beautiful place walked in the U.S. – Aulani Disney Resort on Oahu, Hawaii