'My mind will keep me going'

Executive pastor will celebrate his birthday by walking 60 miles to raise money for Institute for Families.

June 03, 2010|By Britney Barnes

The number of years is the theme for Bob Ewing's 60th birthday, but he doesn't want 60 presents, a 60-person party or 60 snow-white swans.

Ewing plans to walk 60 miles and has asked supporters to donate $60 — $1 a mile.

The executive pastor of First Christian Church of Huntington Beach hopes to raise $6,000 for the Institute for Families, a nonprofit that provides counseling and support to families touched by cancer or vision-impacting diseases.

"I want to do something for someone and not just walk 60 miles," the longtime Huntington Beach resident said.

Ewing's decision to make his special day about others is not surprising when considering his generous nature, said Dan Deghi, First Christian Church's pastor of outreach and a longtime friend.

"I just think that it's just indicative of Bob's big heart," he said.

Ewing got involved with the organization through a family in his congregation.


Parents Brian and Cindy Olson and their twins, Jake and Emma, have been using the Institute for Families as they have dealt with the ups and downs of Jake's condition.

Jake, 12, lost sight in his left eye at age 1 to retinal blastoma, a childhood cancer on the retina. Jake has been losing vision in his right eye and is now legally blind.

The family has been an inspiration to the church in general and to Ewing specifically, Deghi said.

"It's been kind of a journey he's taken with the family through the whole process," Deghi said.

The church will be his home base, and he is planning on walking seven- and eight-mile loops that start and finish at his church beginning 1 a.m. June 19 and, he hopes, finishing as the church service ends at 7 p.m.

"If my body doesn't cooperate, it may not end at that time," he said.

Ewing has arthritis in his big toes and doesn't have 20-year-old feet and knees anymore, he said with a laugh.

He plans to change his socks and shoes and ice his feet and has been asking friends to pray for his feet and knees.

Ewing, a former runner, has hiked the Grand Canyon, run a marathon and completed a 100-mile bike ride, but his aging body has forced him to switch to walking.

To prepare for his birthday feat, he is walking four to five times a week. In preparation, he plans to walk 30 miles this week to see what it feels like.

Ewing talks both seriously and jokingly about the obstacles with which he is contending, but he is positive he will complete the walk.

"My body may not want to finish, but my mind will keep me going," he said.

How To Help

Donate at or mail a check to Institute for Families, c/o First Christian Church, 1207 Main St., Huntington Beach, CA 92648

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