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FHS grad sets off on the long walk to Miami

Farmington High School graduate Jordan Dibb sets off from Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis Saturday morning. He'll spend 100 days walking 1,800 miles to Miami to raise money for disaster relief in Haiti.1 / 2
Jordan Dibb and those who gathered Saturday morning to see him off get together for a prayer before the Farmington High School graduate took his first steps toward Miami.2 / 2

Sometime after the prayer offered for his benefit and before he took the first step of the longest walk of his life Jordan Dibb teared up.

Maybe he was thinking of the support people had shown him since he announced plans to walk 1,800 miles from Minneapolis to Miami, or about the size of the task in front of him. Maybe he'd just realized how much his feet were going to hurt by the time he was done.

Whatever the case, a question from one of the 30 or so people gathered at Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis helped bring a smile back to the Farmington High School graduate's face.

"Do you have to walk back?"

Dibb hopes hopes he doesn't. More than three months of walking is enough of a stroll, thank you very much.

Dibb's walk was born out of the frustration of the long and fruitless job search he's conducted since graduating last spring from Hamline University and out of a desire to help victims of the January earthquakes that devastated Haiti. He hopes to raise $100,000 for disaster relief in Haiti by the time he reaches Miami.

Dibb was nervous in the week leading up to Saturday, but he slept surprisingly well Friday night. It's like his body knew he was walking whether or not he'd gotten a good night's sleep. By the time he woke up Saturday morning, he was ready to go.

"I pretty much opened the front door this morning and saw all the way down to Miami," Dibb said. "I just thought how far I have to go, but it feels good to have this goal set in front of me."

Dibb set off Saturday under cloudy skies. He made a warm-up lap around the lake, then took some time to say good bye to friends and family who had gathered to see him off. There were plenty of hugs and wishes of good fortune. Dibb's mother, Sharon, tied a small wooden cross to his backpack. Lord of Life Church pastor Jamie Thompson said a prayer. And then Dibb was on his way, a crowd of friends and family trailing behind him on Lake Street as if he were the Pied Piper, leading a crowd to Hamline University.

Dibb walked through the campus of his alma mater, and through the grounds of the capitol in St. Paul before turning south and heading to Newport, his destination for the first day. Dibb ended the day Saturday with swollen feet, sore legs and "blisters the size of grapes," according to a Facebook page set up for the walk, but he kept going. He crossed the border into Prescott Sunday and by the time this paper reaches most readers he should be in Trempealeau, Wis.

Dibb's father, Steve, was by his son's side for the first day. He called the weeks since Jordan announced his plans surreal, but said it didn't take much to get behind the effort.

"We watched about nine months while he was frustrated by the job search and feelings of depression and frustration," Steve Dibb said. "He was so excited from the very moment he spoke to us about this, the look in his eyes told us this was going to happen happen with us or without us.

"We can think of worse things a person can do with his time."

Dibb has worked with Thompson and with local Rotary clubs to create a support network along his route. He brought a tent and plans to camp some nights but he's also found people willing to put him up for the night. He's also alerted law enforcement agencies along the route so they'll know he's coming.

Steve Dibb said he'll worry about his son's safety during the 100 days of the walk. But he said the family will offer whatever support it can.

"We've decided as a family that whether he becomes ill or injured we will carry this mission down to Miami," Steve Dibb said. "Any or all of us will be walking across that finish line in July."

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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