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May Update

Posted by on May 13, 2019

It’s been two months since Dave and I flew back to the states from Italy to take a break from our walk across Europe. I thought it would be a good time to give you an update on what’s been going on during our hiatus.

First, both of us had uneventful returns to our respective homes; I to San Antonio and Dave to Tallahassee.

The day after I returned, I went straight to the doctor with a very sore and painful left foot. Basically, I had been walking on the side of my foot for the last 500 miles of our walk due to a sharp pain when I put weight on the ball of my foot. The podiatrist diagnosed my condition as Morton’s Neuroma. It’s basically an inflamed nerve that shoots a pain into my third and fourth toe when I put weight on the ball of my left foot. It’s fairly common for runners and heavy walkers, and very difficult to heal. The first step was to take steroids for five days. That didn’t seem to do any good. The next step was a cortisone injection into the nerve. That has helped some but I still am not completely back to normal. The next treatment option was to have a series of 4-5 alcohol injections into the nerve which would basically kill the nerve. I considered doing that, but after discussing it with the doctor, I have elected instead to have another cortisone injection about a week before I return to Italy in early June to resume the walk. The doctor believes this has the best chance of fixing the problem. So I’ve been giving my foot plenty of rest and I’m confident I’ll be ready to resume the walk on schedule.

In April, Wyn and I along with daughters Jessie and Karla and several family friends, had the great honor of presenting an Aggie Ring to the third recipient of The Walking Aggie Endowed Ring Scholarship, Johnathan Gillispie. Johnathan, a career Army Reservist, is a senior from Caddo Mills and will be graduating from Texas A&M in December. Johnathan’s family was there to share in the excitement and we were honored to present the ring on behalf of all the donors to the scholarship.

Aggie Ring recipient Johnathan Gillispie and his mother from Caddo Mills, Texas.

And speaking of the Ring Scholarship, I am very pleased to announce the return of the fund drive for The Walking Aggie Endowed Ring Scholarship. As you probably recall, on my walk across America in 2015, I solicited donations to establish an endowed Aggie Ring Scholarship. 350+ gracious donors donated over $27,000 to help establish the endowment. As mentioned above, we presented the third recipient his ring this year, and this scholarship will continue to be awarded annually to a male or female Aggie student who is a veteran of our armed services. However, there is still much that can be done to continue to grow the scholarship. With that in mind, I have re-inserted the donation link to The Walking Aggie Endowed Ring Scholarship on each page of The Walking Aggie website. A simple click on the “Donate Here” tab will take you directly to the Texas A&M Association of Former Students webpage where you can donate to the scholarship. Contributions will help grow the scholarship and ensure more deserving Aggie students receive their Aggie Ring in the future.

I’ve spent most of the last two months catching up on time lost. I’m chipping away at a list of honey-do’s and spending plenty of time with the family since I’ll be gone the entire summer. In late April/early May, Wyn and I took a motorcycle trip to the West Coast where we caught a ship for a week-long cruise to the Pacific Coast of Mexico. We went through Las Vegas on the return ride and were gone most of three weeks. The weather was perfect on the ride and cruise and we had a great time.

Cruising off the Mexican coast in Cabo San Lucas.

In closing this update, I’m sorry to report that Dave Alcorn will not be accompanying me on the remainder of our walk across Europe. With that in mind, I’ve bought my return flight ticket to Italy for 10 June. After traveling overnight to Milan, I’ll catch the train back to the station in Verona, Italy where the walk stopped on 12 March. So the trek will resume solo on 11 June with nine walking days remaining to the Italy/Austria border. From there, it’s over the Alps, across Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and finally to the finish line in Oslo, Norway on 5 Sept. So I hope you all have a great spring and summer and I look forward to communicating my walking experience to you via on 11 June. Thanks for following. John Ball ’78

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