Monday, April 14, 2008

Terri Steinberg on the Walk 4 Life

From Terri Steinberg

My Visit with Capital X and the Walk for Life:

I picked Bill up at his hotel Sunday morning. It is always so good to see him. His smile can brighten any day! We went on to Union Station to find Shujaa and head downtown to find Capital X. We pulled up to the front of Union Station and here comes Shujaa, a smile on his face and a skip in his step. I shudder to think we could have lost him to the system. What a waste that could have been! Trying to find X in DC was a challenge! Even when we were all in the same area, finding parking and getting to a meeting spot was tricky! But then again, when is there ever a Journey event that has no challenge?? We met up on the Monument grounds and here comes X, from around the corner on crutches. My first thought was that he will never be able to do this with an injury this early into his walk. But after spending time with this determined spirit, I know that nothing will stop him.
The first thing we did was to introduce everyone and get a bit of filming in. As we finished up there and planned to get some lunch, I got a call from Justin! I was glad to be able to tell him why I had to skip the visit he had expected from me that day in order to meet X, and great to have him be able to thank X himself for his valiant effort in the cause for abolition. X said he would walk some of the days through Virginia in Justin's name. We are very grateful and honored for that.
We finally sat down to lunch @ 3:00 and got to know a bit about X and Sonia. Sonia had been his roadside assistant for a few days and was so amazed by him, she offered to pick up a day in Virginia to help again. She is another great activist in the movement. We then tried to map out the schedule a bit and coordinate the next days work. X is pretty much a one-man band. He walks all day, films and then when he goes in for the night, edits and posts his days walk on the blog. His energy is amazing!
I dropped Shujaa back off at Union Station and got a quick visit and hug from Phyllis. Such a beautiful person, her voice so calming and comforting. I love Phyllis and Shujaa. I am blessed to call them friends. I had the privilege of hosting Bill at my house that night. Capital X stayed with Abe. It was great for my family to meet and spend time with the man I speak about so often. It was a comfort to me to have him sleep in Justin's room since he has done so much for me and Justin since I met him on the steps of the Supreme Court 2 days after Justin was sentenced to death in 2002. It is a small token of appreciation for a debt I can never repay. He is welcome here any time!
I dropped Bill off at the NCADP the next morning to meet up with X and Abe. Unfortunately, I had to take my uncle to the doctor and could not join them for the day. It was good to know Bill had Abe's Journey van to help X for the next few days.
On Tuesday morning, I caught up with X on Lee Highway not far from my home. It was great to hear the story of how he got into this movement, to hear of his past struggles and how he has turned his life into such a positive force and example. We walked about 6 miles then drove to Manassas to get some filming in front of the court steps which put Justin on the row. I still get the shakes driving to that court house. As we tried to film in front of the courthouse, but were stopped by a deputy, so we moved down the street a bit and filmed there. Then we went to the Manassas Journal newspaper office to meet with a reporter Illana Naylor had set up to interview X. The reporter was not ready at the time, and said he would catch up with him as he walked through Manassas in a few hours. I had to get to my daughter's school and left X to walk through my dreaded Manassas by himself. Since he was not "with anyone local" when he crossed through Manassas, the reported decided not to interview and unfortunately, we lost the opportunity to get him some well deserved publicity. This was disappointing to have him doing something so great and not get the recognition for himself and his cause.
I found him again on Wednesday morning, walking down route 28 in Bristow, which ironically is where the murder took place that changed our lives forever. He had stopped to take a quick picture of the town sign. Even though this walk is not an easy task, Capital X makes sure he stops to take pictures of the beautiful scenery along the way and make the best of his journey. I joined him and we walked past Justin's grandparents old house and on down 28. The time passes quickly as we walk and talk. I was shocked to learn I had put in 9 miles with him! We only stopped to take pictures of the scenery and some beautiful horses that came to the fence for a pose. He has inspiring energy and determination for this cause. He walks with the last number he wore in prison on his back, determined not to go back again. He is a kind man and I am blessed to have had the opportunity to walk a few miles with him! I only wish I could do more.
Iliana Naylor caught up with us as we walked down 28 in Fauquier County. She had met Bill and X in the morning after just getting off night shift duty at the hospital, then to a meeting and catching us on route 28 @ 11. In her usual Illana ways, she showed up with 2 sandwiches for X and a sign to carry as we continued on. She is always thinking of others and always has a positive way to brighten the day. It was so good to see her. She is a breath of fresh air, such a kind and peace filled soul.
I had been walking for over 3 hours at this point and my foot was swelling (I had surgery just a few months ago!) but I could only think of how I was almost done and X would continue on. Though I wasn't ready to say goodbye, I had to get to my daughter's performance at school, and my foot was ready! Just before Bill pulled up to get us, a big truck went by us and honked in support. On the back of his truck was painted a pair of wings and the words "touched by an angel". I do believe I had just been touched by a few!

(NOTE: Look for more from Terri in the near future!)

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