On a busy Thursday afternoon, The Press welcomed an unexpected visitor to our offices, located on Woodville Road in Millbury.
Michigan native Jim Casha stopped into the Press office to grab some respite from the heat and to discuss his journey – a walk from Lansing to Washington, D.C. intended to raise awareness about Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
Once in Washington, he hopes to call on state and national lawmakers to address the issue by appropriating funding for intervention and outreach programs.
The 58-year-old, who currently resides in Canada, made the walk three years ago, but felt the journey was worth repeating.
|Jim Casha Walking for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. (Press photo by Ken Grosjean)
“Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is something that’s touched me and my family personally,” he said. “Both of my adopted brothers were exposed to alcohol in the womb. They both developed mental health issues and both are in Michigan prisons.
“People ask me what I got out of my last walk and I said 'sore feet,' but that's not all,” Casha said. “I got to talk with a lot of Americans who understand, are sympathetic, and willing to help provide better care for the mentally ill and mentally disabled (fetal alcohol cases).
“We sent many postcards to the President along the way asking for his help but received no answer,” he said. “My then 8-year-old daughter wrote him as well. No answer. Since then, many people have died as a result of improper care for the mentally ill and mentally disabled. Many of them children.
“I also learned a lot about why our political system doesn't work, made lots of contacts, planted lots of seeds and realized just how far I could walk if I have to – 31 miles in one day carrying a 35-pound pack 75 miles in three days,” he added.
Casha, who traveled alone, carried a tent, relied on the kindness of strangers along the way. He hoped to make the trip in 40 days. He arrived in D.C. at 4:20 p.m. on June 30th – 38 days. “A little 'premature' - just like many babies subjected to prenatal alcohol exposure,” he said. “I spent the first and second if July visiting the offices of many senators.
“As important as this issue is - it is not on anyone's radar,” he said.
I walked every day for 38 days although one day I could only go four miles due to dehydration,” He said. “It was a great experience and thanks to the 'kindness of strangers' - I made it.”