Visually Impaired youth Walking across Belize
On Thursday, Rowan Garel set out to walk some ninety two miles all in the name of goodwill. Garel hopes to raise one hundred thousand dollars for a summer camp and also to raise awareness to visually impaired children. The journey, which started from the West, will take over four days. While they didn’t quite meet their target on the first day, they made up for it today. News Five went on the Western Highway and met Garel and his support group in Camalote Village. News Five’s Andrea Polanco was there when Garel crossed his finish line for today’s leg of the race.
Andrea Polanco, Reporting
On Day two of his ‘Walk Across Belize’, after twenty-two miles of walking, Rowan Garel picked up the tempo as he sprints to the finish line at the Belmopan Junction in front of the Guanacaste National Park. He is beat, after trudging along with his cane under the hot sun.
“I am exhausted but I’m happy that this day is done.”
Garel’s initiative, to raise one hundred thousand dollars for a BCVI summer camp, started out at the Benque Border on Thursday, after which they walked for about thirteen miles to the Joan Garbutt Stadium in Esperanza. The blind but brave fourteen year old, along with a small support system, started this leg of his journey at five this morning in Esperanza Village.
“Sometimes I could just picture like if I’m successful, we could have a really good summer camp and they could get a really good education there. The thing with me is that I’ll only stop if I’m about to collapse. I really didn’t want to stop although my feet were killing me.”
Joe Garel, Rowan’s Dad, is one of his biggest supporters; he says the support from the public has been tremendous.
Joe Garel, Rowan’s Dad
“From the get-go we had people coming in and say they gonna walk with us. There is a young lady, cyclist, Sheena Castillo, the cyclist, she takes the bus up every day and come and walk with us and then goes back to town and that is a lot. We have two gentlemen all the way from U.S who came down to walk with us and they have done fundraisers in the states as well, Paul Pathus and Joseph Gallagher, they came to do the entire walk with us as well. People from different villages jump out of their house and walk so some people are coming along; people blowing their horn and others brining five dollars, ten dollars, that kind of stuff, donating.”
Six hours later as they walked on; briskly, under the sweltering sun on the Western Highway, the fourteen year old, shows no signs of being tired; despite being sore. Although it was taxing on Garel, he kept hydrated and energized, walking thirty six miles in two days.
“Yesterday we only walked like thirteen miles maybe and so I think I’ve done about thirteen miles before when we went to Boom, or maybe less. But I’ve never walked twenty miles ever in my life so today was really painful but it’s good to know that that’s over and that today is probably the longest day so there’s definitely a sense of triumph.”
“Today we knew that this was gonna be one of the longest drags and a little hilly, you know the rolling hills. Just keep a pace that he is comfortable with; keep rehydrating him; Gatorade; water; snack when you can, we have power gels and that kind of stuff. We did stop for about fifteen minutes because his feet were kinda sore, took his shoes off and massage his feet; put some anti-inflammatory on it and then he got up back up and he said he gonna sprint in and I told him be careful because the cameras are there but he did well.”
Rowan Garel, a champion for children with disabilities, particularly a voice for those who are blind, climbed Victoria Peak one year ago; today he says walking across Belize is just as challenging.
“I said before that this would be easier than Victoria Peak but now I’m not so sure because with Victoria Peak, you rest every minute; you stop, you lie down on the ground or whatever, yuh know. But this, you are racing the sun and you’re racing yourself.”
“There is not a whole lot he can do with his condition; so if I can take him out and let him do stuff like that where he can challenge and push himself, cause I enjoy pushing myself and I can tell from an early age that he enjoys pushing himself otherwise he wouldn’t be doing this kind of stuff. Victoria Peak last year is no task for just anybody and seeing him complete that, I don’t see anything stopping him from doing even something like this.”
“Apart from my bed; I want to go in a pool and just soak.”
Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.
Garel is spending the night in Belmopan and will start day three from the junction at the Guanacaste National Park at five on Saturday morning.