PORT ANGELES — A Port Angeles pastor plans to bike, kayak and run 1,300 miles around Washington state, praying and raising funds for orphans and widows.
The idea came to the Rev. Joe DeScala, director of Mended church in Port Angeles, after his 46-year-old cousin died suddenly in October, leaving behind a wife and five children.
DeScala, 41, began thinking about others in the same situation — people who have lost a spouse and children who have lost a parent — and about what needs they might have.
“I was running one day on the Waterfront Trail and I heard God very clearly say to me, ‘I want you to pray around the state of Washington,’ ” DeScala. It then became clear to DeScala that he needed to literally pray around the state, he said, and he began planning the 1,300-mile trip.
DeScala plans to start the trek from Port Angeles on June 24.
From there, he will bike to Whidbey Island, bike along state Highway 20 across the Cascade Mountains and travel through Washington’s foothills to Spokane.
Then he will head south, where he plans to kayak much of the Columbia River before reaching Astoria. Then he plans to run along the Pacific coast back to Port Angeles.
In all, it should take about 34 days, he said.
Mended has started an orphans and widows fund and is now accepting donations, he said.
The immediate goal is to raise $10,000, about half of which will go toward the trek. Fifty percent of each donation will go directly to the fund, DeScala said.
Once the trip is funded, DeScala said, 100 percent of donations would go toward the fund, which will be used to help meet the basic needs of people who have lost spouses and children without parents in the community.
He said Mended plans to work with the county’s Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program, which helps children who through no fault of their own are in the court system.
Valerie Brooks, program coordinator for CASA in Clallam County, said Mended is working to build a supportive relationship with CASA’s kids.
A committee that oversees the fund will decide how to distribute the money, DeScala said.
He said that for children, the fund could cover things such as school supplies, clothing or other costs.
For widows, the fund would support paying for such things as sending flowers and cards and other needs, such as yardwork.
“The sky is the limit,” DeScala said. He said he welcomes suggestions of those who would benefit from the fund.
After his cousin died, DeScala’s wife, Makayla DeScala, painted a piece called “Broken Hearted.”
Anyone who donates $100 or more will receive a print of the piece, he said.
“This piece has brought comfort to my family, visually showing what words couldn’t express,” he said.
He also wants to see it help children who are in the foster care system, he said.
His hope is that the fund will continue to be funded long after his adventure across the state is finished.
DeScala has done endurance sports for years, he said, but this will be his largest test of endurance.
“I have never done anything of this magnitude,” he said. “This is a whole new arena for me.”
His family will drive a support vehicle for him during the trip, but he plans to make the trip without climbing in a gas-powered vehicle.
“I’m going to attempt to cover every inch of that circle under my own power,” he said.
He described it as a community project and said he is continuing to look for sponsors.
He is currently sponsored by Sound Bikes &Kayaks and CrossFit ThunderRidge, Swain’s General Store, the North Olympic Discovery Marathon, The Big Hurt, Cascadia Films and Next Door Gastropub, he said.
“I’m so excited that people are responding to this effort,” he said. “Our gracious community has already stepped up to help in big ways.”
Funds raised during Susan Marie Conrad’s April 27 presentation about her 1,200-mile kayak expedition up the Inside Passage of Vancouver will benefit the orphans and widows fund. A $10 donation at the door is suggested. The presentation will begin at 7 p.m. at Studio Bob, 118½ E. Front St., Port Angeles.
A social hour starts at 6 p.m. at Sound Bikes &Kayaks, 120 E. Front St.
DeScala is looking for people to go with him on the trip, though he will be the only one completing the entire trek.
The goal is to have at least one other person actively traveling with him at all times as well as a support vehicle nearby, he said.
For more information about the journey and to donate, visit www.wearemended.org/oaw.
DeScala can be reached by calling 360-461-0610 or by email at email@example.com.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.