Anna Harrington is walking across the U.S. — 20 miles each day — to raise awareness for Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Photo by Erin Fenner

Anna Harrington is walking across the U.S. — 20 miles each day — to raise awareness for Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Woman walks across the US for Shriners Hospitals, stops in Craig

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Anna Harrington is taking on a huge feat — on her feet.

She’s walking across the country — from Astoria, Oregon, to Boston — to raise awareness for Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Harrington passed through Craig on Sunday and started hoofing it toward Steamboat Springs on Monday. She walks 20 miles each day, and while she has a pack filled with camping gear, she hasn’t had to carry it since she started walking in Colorado. Locals hauled her gear and made sure she had a place to sleep since she crossed into the state.

“It’s been incredible. When I first started out, I figured I’d be camping out every single night,” she said. “People welcome this stranger into their homes and feed me.”

But even though she accepts a place to stay, she doesn’t take rides.

“I have to walk every step of my walk,” Harrington said.

Shriners Hospitals for Children are a network of nonprofit hospitals that specialize in helping children with orthopedic conditions, spinal injuries and severe burns. The Sacramento, California, Shriners Hospital was instrumental in helping Harrington’s nephew, who suffered from scoliosis on top of being paraplegic.

Spending time at the Sacramento hospital with her nephew and other patients inspired Harrington to help.

“A few years ago, I read that Shriners Hospital was considering closing some of their hospitals due to a dwindling endowment,” she said. “As soon as I read it, the idea came to me.”

The idea was to walk coast to coast for a cause that meant so much to her and her family.

Her Craig host, Bill Hesselgren, a local Freemason, worked with other masons and Shriners to make sure she had a warm bed and food.

He jumped on the opportunity to give her a place to stay because he stood behind her cause, and he liked being part of a bigger effort.

“This is a little bit of a new twist on things. We don’t often get to escort someone across the country,” he said.

Hesselgren said he hoped this would raise awareness for the hospital.

“It’s remarkable how many people don’t understand, don’t even know (Shriners) exists,” he said.

It takes Harrington about six hours to trek her daily 20 miles, but she allots an extra hour or two for walking in her day. She almost inevitably is stopped by other travelers — people who are curious about her journey or want to offer support.

On Friday, her third day walking through Colorado, she spotted a semi-truck stop at the bottom of the hill in front of her. The driver got out, got back in and kept trucking. But when she got to the spot the driver had stopped, she found a bag filled with ice and one Arizona Iced Tea. Written on the bag: “You go girl!”

“I was grinning ear to ear after that,” she said.

Harrington started her trip March 1 and anticipates she will wrap it up in October, when she finally hits the East Coast. Until then, she will camp out or couch-surf her way across the U.S., enjoying the walk.

“She is the baton in a relay,” Harrington said.

Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.

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