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Wisconsin woman walking to Texas in honor of late mother, raising funds for lung disease

Mary Hesch is walking from Wisconsin to Texas in 99 days to raise money and awareness for pulmonary fibrosis.
Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 12:05 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2021 at 6:52 PM CDT
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MIDDLETON, Wis. (WMTV) - A Wisconsin woman is walking for 99 days through 5 states to help those who are suffering from the disease that took her mother’s life.

60-year-old Mary Hesch set off from her home in Stevens Point on September 15 to start her journey to the ocean in Port Aransas, Texas.

On Wednesday she passed through Middleton with her walking partner and support system, Joan Dold. Joan’s husband, Clarence, drives an RV that the three are staying in during the trip.

Mary is trekking an average of 14.6 miles a day and will have walked more than 1,400 miles by the time she finishes. While she enjoys the exercise and scenery, the walk has a greater purpose than just reaching the sun and sand.

“I am on a mission. I’ve thought about this for 15, 20 years,” said Hesch.

Hesch is walking in honor of her mother, Mary Edna Hesch, who died at 64-years-old from a lung disease called pulmonary fibrosis.

Mary Hesch promotes her fundraiser on the back of the RV she and friends are staying in during...
Mary Hesch promotes her fundraiser on the back of the RV she and friends are staying in during their walk from Wisconsin to Texas(Erin Sullivan WMTV)

“Her favorite spot once she was diagnosed was at the ocean and so her ashes are spread in the Gulf of Port Aransas, Texas. So, I just thought it would be a wonderful pilgrimage to my mother, 25 years after her death, to walk to the ocean,” explained Hesch.

Hesch said there is no known cause or cure for the disease, so she decided to raise money for the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation during her walk.

The organization spreads awareness about the disease, provides support to those diagnosed with it, and is heavily involved in research for a cure.

Hesch wants others going through what her mother did to have as many resources as possible at their disposal.

“My mom was an amazing woman. Beautiful sprit. So, I’m honored to be doing this in her memory,” said Hesch.

Her fundraising goal is $50,000. As of Wednesday, day 7 of 99, she has raised nearly $17,000.

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