Green Bridge no obstacle for Manatee hunger walkers

rdymond@bradenton.comFebruary 24, 2014 

PALMETTO -- Kalie Justus, 15, hates heights.

But the Palmetto High School student hates the thought of children going hungry worse.

That's why Kalie, decked out in workout attire, made it all the way across the Green Bridge between Palmetto and Bradenton during the 2014 Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty Hunger Walk on Sunday.

"I'm afraid of heights but this is a good cause," said Kalie, who walked with her brother, Alfonso, 13 and sister, Mackinnzie , 12.

The Justus children were among 110 walkers clad in shorts, tennis shoes and carrying signs and water across the bridge and back from First United Methodist Church of Palmetto starting at 2 p.m.

The walk funnels money to Church World Services, which serves the hungry around the globe.

It will be about six weeks before all the donations are turned in from the event, which featured walkers from about 20 churches, said coordinator John Bregger.

One of the most enthusiastic walking crews were nine members from Faith United Church of Christ at 4850 State Road 64 East.

They carried signs and were among the fastest walkers.

"We do it every year," said Marge Hooie, one of the leaders of the Faith United contingent. "It helps the world, the country and 25 percent goes to Manatee County."

The Rev. Brian Bagley-Bonner of Faith United Church of Christ said the walk was a teaching moment.

"We have a confirmation class and we teach about serving others," Bagley-Bonner said. "This is a great educational tool."

The Faith United Church of Christ crew consisted of Midge and Jack Barnes, Fred Damianos, Bridget Sessions, Nicole Winchell, Eric Tate, Alex Anacki, Hooie and Bagley-Bonner.

The big crowd munched on bananas and apples before the start of the walk and got pepped up by listening to Saint Stephen's Episcopal School teacher Michele Jurgensen playing the drums and Clem Stiving playing the clavex.

Not everyone did the bridge. Ann Burzyck of First United Methodist of Palmetto walked around the church several times.

"I have trouble with my feet but this is a good cause," said the determined Burzyck.

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