Doctors say walking is a great exercise; you burn calories, you have time to yourself and you see everything around you. Have you ever walked to help someone get better? I mean, walking so a person you don’t know, people you don’t know can get the medical care they need? How is that even possible? I walk, you get better. What about walking long distances, just to help someone in need? Ten miles, 20 miles, 50 miles? Have you ever walked from NYC to Hartford, CT? That is a driving distance of 124 miles (according to Google). The last time I knew about someone who traveled great distances just because he felt like it was Forest Gump, and he did pretty much everything. But compared to Raymond Arrieta, Mr. Gump is a nobody.
Who is Raymond Arrieta? A Boricua (of course) who has done, just by walking, something not many people or artists choose to do. Giving money back to a cause is good, helping rebuild communities is also important, but walking 120 miles for the cancer patients in Puerto Rico is simply amazing, something inspiring, a trip to admire. Raymond, is a comedian who started on Puerto Rico TV back in the 80’s, and for more than 20 years have made us laugh on TV, stage and radio. He has some characters that are simply Boricuas and his Stand-Up comedy shows a little bit of what means to be a Boricua. Why start walking then? Why would Raymond walk when he has money to make someone walk for him or drive him anywhere? Here’s a story for you. Back in 1953, actor and comedian Ramón Rivero “Diplo” walked from San Juan to Ponce to help raise money for the cancer patients in the Island (click in the link for a video about it). He and a group of people made the trip and helped raise not just money, but awareness about cancer and what it could do to a person. Diplo decided to help because he understood that with all the media coverage that he had he could help those who had a voice but was hard for them to speak on TV or radio. Raymond did the same in 2009. The second Walkathon covered the same distance that Diplo walked just a couple of years before.
But Raymond did not stay there. He walked again in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 when he completed 120 miles from Mayagüez to San Juan. In five years he has walked more than 250 miles. In his way through the Island, many Boricuas join him; he has a team that takes care of him and other TV personalities walk with him in different areas. People join the Walkathon and give him props for all he does. Last year a kid joined him and he recognized he from the previous year. On that time, her mother was carrying her because she had cancer and a year later she walked by him for a long period of time and she was cancer free. The mother told Raymond she was able to get the treatment she needed because of the money raised the previous year. Imagine Raymond’s face when he heard, and imagine mine full of tears when I was watching TV (we all cry every once in a while). His parents have walked with him, cancer patients, relatives of patients who were beaten by cancer and TV personalities too. Local in international companies have help by donating money to the cause and providing water and food to Raymond during the walk.
With all the stuff going around in this world, and specifically in Borinquen, is great to have a person like Raymond Arrieta and all the people who walked with him. I don’t know how much has been raised since he started walking five years ago, but I do know that he filled a lot of people with hope, with life and a reason to hold on and continue fighting. I personally want to thank Raymond and all the volunteers for the great job they continue to do every year to help raise money for the cancer patients. I am proud to say Raymond is an amazing person and, of course, a Boricua .
We can always help too. If you want to make a donation, go to http://www.ligacancerpr.org, or just go to a hospital in your area and give back a bit of your time if you don’t have any money. Go and help someone smile, it will make a difference in their lives and yours. Until nex time, cójanlo suave!