The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

June 25, 2013

OCC grad’s cross-country run brings him through Joplin

JOPLIN, Mo. — Pausing Tuesday afternoon on Seventh Street in Joplin, Steve Spear took a moment to take a long pull from his water bottle, catch his breath and reflect on being halfway finished.

He was at about the midpoint for the day’s run, and also in the middle of the run that will take him from the West Coast to Brooklyn, N.Y.

“This is exciting and surreal,” Spear said. “It’s exciting in the sense that I’m halfway done. And it’s surreal in the sense that, ‘Oh, there’s half left to go.’”

Spear, who began his run April 8 from the Santa Monica Pier, has been averaging more than 30 miles a day. His plan is to follow Route 66 to Chicago and then make his way to New York. He said he is on track to conclude his run in Brooklyn the first week of September.

Passing through Joplin on Tuesday marked something of a homecoming.

Spear, who lives in St. Charles, Ill., graduated in 1986 from Ozark Christian College in Joplin. He also returned a week after the May 2011 tornado to deliver supplies and volunteer during recovery efforts.

He is running across the country as a volunteer ambassador for World Vision, raising money to provide clean water to people in Africa.

“The whole idea was to raise $1.5 million so that 30,000 people could have clean water for life,” Spear said. “Right now we’re at about $110,000. We safely have enough for 2,000 people to have a whole new future. I’m hopeful and encouraged that the rest will come in due time.”

He is being followed across the country by his family and crew in two donated RVs. Side trips have taken him to several churches where he has shared his story, including a weekend stop at Racine Christian Church in Seneca.

“(My message) was from Luke 8:22,” he said. “It’s a lesson about trusting God. For me, running is all about fear ... about taking steps out of fear.”

As someone who took up running just six years ago, Spear said each day of his run has been a true “test of resolve.”

“My body has held up better than I thought,” he said. “There have been some low moments, some challenging moments, and lots of fatigue. But there has also been lots and lots of resolve to move forward every day.

“I’ve learned to trust the prayers and support of other people to put one foot in front of the other.”

On the Net

INFORMATION ABOUT Steve Spear’s cross-country journey can be found at www.runningforwater.com.

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