89-Year-Old Woman Walking Across US
WEATHERFORD, Texas (AP) - There are a few things you ought to know about Doris Haddock before taking a walk with the 89-year-old woman.
No. 1: Despite her age, severe arthritis and her recent recovery from emphysema, she keeps a brisk pace.
No. 2: She waits for no one.
And No. 3: She walks with a purpose.
The soft-spoken, 5-foot ``Granny D'' is nearly halfway through a 3,055-mile walk across the country to call attention to campaign-finance reform.
She set out from Southern California on New Year's Day and expects to finish in Washington in January, walking six days a week, 10 miles a day. This week, she made her way down U.S. Highway 180 in the Texas summer heat.
Ms. Haddock said the cross-country trek was her idea, but she is making the walk with the backing of Common Cause, the Washington-based interest group that advocates campaign-finance reform.
The former secretary and shoe factory worker, whose only past political activity was participating in protests of nuclear tests in the 1950s, said political offices are, in effect, up for the highest bid.
``Our system has broken down,'' she said while walking along a hilly stretch of highway in Weatherford, 30 miles west of Fort Worth. ``To run today, even an honest man has to sell his soul to the big corporations to compete. And it's getting worse all the time.''
The Dublin, N.H., woman is so serious about taking her message to Congress that she braved the Mojave Desert - she was hospitalized four days for dehydration - and tapped her bank account for the trip.
She said she is trying to avoid taking money from Common Cause or other groups and tries to save cash by staying with people she meets along the way.
So trudges on with her backpack canteen strapped on and a big straw hat on her head, her son Jim and daughter-in-law Libby trailing her in an old Dodge van with a bed in the back. It usually takes four to five hours to make the 10-mile hike each day, including several 10-minute breaks.
The arthritis requires her to wear a brace that causes her to walk hunched over.
``I think it's great that some people want to take the country back,'' said Jerry Kershman, who broke from mowing his grass along the highway to greet Granny D and offer her a few dollars. ``I don't think our kids would be the way they are if they didn't see all this corruption in government.''
She is backing legislation to limit so-called soft money donations in federal campaigns. The measure died last September in the Senate.
``Nothing's happening because people are too afraid to stand up and say it's got to stop,'' she said. ``Everyone in Congress was elected under this system and they don't want to bite the hand that feeds them.''
She was making her way through Texas on Wednesday when the Texas governor, presidential candidate George W. Bush, announced he had raised a record $36 million in his first six months on the campaign trail.
Ahead of Ms. Haddock lie Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia. She plans to reach Washington by her 90th birthday, Jan. 24