Walking for a cause

Seattle woman makes trek across nation

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— A Seattle woman walking across the country to raise political awareness made a stop in Steamboat Springs Tuesday.

Jeanette Wallis, 31, said she hopes to highlight the importance of citizen participation in democracy. In fact, she calls her journey the Walk for Democracy.

As she travels from town to town at a pace of 10 to 13 miles per day, Wallis collects grievances she hopes to deliver to President Bush when she reaches Washington, D.C.

So far, Wallis has collected 400 grievances, including a note she received from Hunter S. Thompson while visiting the author at his Woody Creek residence.

She estimates her cross-country effort will take 10 more months to complete.

She actually began her walk in April 2001 and made it as far as Logan, Utah, before a foot injury forced her to abandon the trip. She resumed the trek from Logan on April 1 this year.

"Democracy doesn't work if the people are silent," Wallis said. "If our politicians aren't representing our interests, it is our responsibility to speak out, even if we are the only dissident voice."

Lewis was a psychiatric counselor for 12 years.

She said during the World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle in December 1999, she was walking home when she was tear-gassed by riot police trying to quell WTO protesters.

That incident spurred her to become more politically active.

After reading about a 90-year-old woman who walked from Los Angeles to Washington, Wallis was inspired to undertake a similar journey.

She currently walks with a 5-year-old Labrador named Sherpa. A friend has joined Wallis on the trip and is driving a camper that Wallis camps in.

She makes stops in towns she passes through, giving talks to local schools and civic organizations.

So far, she has raised $9,000 in donations for her trip. She said she will leave Steamboat at about 9 a.m. today en route to Walden and then on to Fort Collins.

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