By: Jay Carney

MaxI have conducted many “Runs for Uganda” over the years to raise money for STB’s Uganda education program. But what Max Feiler is doing this year dwarfs anything I have ever undertaken. Inspired by the thousands of East African pilgrims who walk for weeks to Uganda Martyrs Day, Max is undertaking a 14-month, 3,000-mile walk-across-the-USA on help benefit STB and the Ugandans who touched his life as a 2017 summer intern with Fr. Joseph Kakooza.

A month after graduating from Duke Divinity School, Max embarked on his journey in June 2019 by swimming out into Boston Harbor, symbolizing his desire to begin his pilgrimage with a ritual cleansing. In his first three months, he has walked through cities, suburbs, and along the Appalachian Trail. In Maryland, he will pick up the newly-finished American Discovery Trail and take it all the way out to California. “I have tried to come with no expectations,” Max says. “I know I am walking from Boston to San Francisco. I am just trying to play it by ear with as much fun and piety as I can.” He carries his few belongings on his back and sleeps most nights in a hammock or on the ground. Despite the occasional “conversation” with local police, he has mostly encountered hospitality, warmth, and generosity from fellow hikers and passersby. He spends his days listening to audio books, reading Scripture, and just being quiet, locating himself in a pilgrimage tradition with deep roots in Christian history. “I am using my body to embody the faith,” he says.

As for the name “heckawalk”? According to Max, “hecka” is the kindergarten way of saying “helluva” in northern California, and Max “wanted to homage that I am from California.” (I might add that a 3,000-mile hike is surely worthy of the label!) Max’s goal is to raise $25,000 for Share the Blessings. He chose to work with STB given the organization’s successful track record of building wells and supporting education in Uganda. He plans to dedicate one-third of his funds to building two water boreholes in Uganda; one-third will support school scholarships; and one-third will expand access to St. Jude Kasana’s lunch program. After he finishes his walk, he will spend a year living in Uganda.

If you’re interested in contributing to Max Feiler’s benefit walk, please check out his Gofundme site.  Omukama abeere naawe – May God bless you, Max!