Both Michael McLaughlin and Patty Frati would never have considered they could walk the 20-mile Walk for Hunger only a few years ago, but this Sunday, May 5, they will begin the walk on Boston Common, and hopefully, finish 20 miles later on the Common.
The Walk for Hunger is the oldest long-distance charity walk in the country, celebrating its 51st year this weekend. The walk raises money for Project Bread, which directly funds food pantries and meals locations throughout Greater Boston – including Everett.
“The night before the Marathon, we went to see the finish line in the Back Bay and walked back to Everett,” said Frati. “Then Mike suggested that maybe we should walk the 20-mile Walk for Hunger, but I thought he was just kidding. Later, he said he was serious. The walk really wasn’t that bad and I love to walk and am taking this as a personal challenge. Beyond that, we volunteer at the Grace Food Pantry in Everett and see the need. There are so many people without access to food, this is the least we could do to help.”
Added McLaughlin, who is an Everett city councilor, “This helps so much because so many people struggle with food insecurity. We have learned that one in 10 people have to decide between their medications or food. Hunger is something that people in all of our communities face. We felt this was something meaningful we could do…I’m going to run the 5K race and then 30 minutes later begin the 20-mile walk.”
Both have become Heart & Soul Sponsors of this year’s walk, which means they have committed to raising $500 each.
The fact that they can make the walk is actually astounding for both, though.
McLaughlin shared that only two years ago he was not healthy enough to walk such a distance, but that has completely changed as he has lost hundreds of pounds since 2017.
“Only two years ago, I didn’t think there was any way I could walk that distance ever again,” he said. “AS many know in the community, I decided to have gastric bypass surgery and it has been a life-changing event as I have lost more than 200 pounds to date. It has opened up new opportunities for me. A few years ago, I couldn’t imagine doing a 20-mile walk. Every day now, I’m able to run, go to the gym and live a healthy, active life. It was only due to the support of my family, friends and girlfriend, Patty, that I have been able to change my life. Now I think it’s time to use that change to support and help others.”
Frati said she, too, would not have considered the walk an option as recently as last summer.
“I really love walking and I even keep a pedometer on as I walk around work,” she said. “It is my passion, but even this past summer I went through my own personal medical issue. It’s a great challenge to know I can do this – to be able to walk this distance and help others at the same time.”
Both said they are very excited and hope more Everett residents will join them in Sunday’s walk. Registration can be made on the day of the walk on the Boston Common for $25. Those who do not want to walk but would like to support McLaughlin and Frati on their walk can do so online at the Project Break Walk for Hunger website.
“I think it would be great if we had a lot of people from Everett make the trip and walk for this cause,” said McLaughlin. “Just three years ago, neither one of us would have thought we could do this, and now here we are excited and ready to complete the Walk for Hunger.”