A 24-mile walk for life – Knights trek from Pella to Oskaloosa to support local pregnancy centers

From left, Knights of Columbus Mike Buchheit, Andy Davis, Steve Phillips, Chris Frank and Mark Howard approach the town of Leighton during a fundraising walk from Pella to Oskaloosa March 2. James Feudner (not pictured) also made the 24-mile trek.

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

Gravel crunched under the shoes of a half-dozen Knights of Columbus as they walked from Pella to Oskaloosa. The 24-mile “Walk with Jesus for Life” route was a bit longer than the men anticipated but each mile brought in funds for local pro-life pregnancy centers. “We thought it would be a good challenge,” organizer Steve Phillips said of the walk, which took place earlier this month.

Phillips, a member of St. Mary Parish in Oskaloosa and a past grand knight, drew inspiration from local March for Life events. He thought a long route might grab people’s attention and lead to more pledges. Donors could allocate their funds to Pathways of Pella, The Growing Place of Oskaloosa, or both. 

The Knights weren’t used to walking such long distances but they had faith it would work out. “We all need to support life and women and families who are in need of assistance when faced with life’s challenges,” said Oskaloosa Knight Andy Davis. “This hits home even more since my daughter made me a grandpa last year,” said James Feudner, also of Oskaloosa. “This was a great opportunity to bond with other Catholic men who feel the same way.”


Participants from St. Mary parishes in Oskaloosa and Pella prayed the rosary at the Pella church before heading out around 8 a.m. Five Knights walked the entire route and two Knights walked a portion of the route. The group walked along rural roads to avoid highway traffic.

The sunny and slightly windy weather made for a pleasant walk, though Phillips said they would have trudged through snow if necessary. Friendship-deepening conversations helped pass the time. Still, the last few miles were a struggle. “At the end, one of the guys pulled up the Rocky theme song to pep us up.”

Mike Buchheit, a Knight from St. Mary Parish in Pella, said the walk was physically painful at times but it was easy to stay motivated. “We walked alongside each other to share our stories and our commitment to protecting the lives of the unborn.”

People helping behind the scenes outnumbered the men walking, Phillips said. Parishioners and Knights from both parishes and the Columbiettes auxiliary in Oskaloosa made donations and helped promote the event. Pella Knight Bob Feist provided water and support along the route. The town of Leighton, about halfway between Pella and Oskaloosa, opened its city hall as a resting place.

The men reached St. Mary Parish in Oskaloosa after about seven hours of walking. The event raised about $4,200 and Phillips hopes that success will lead to more walks in the future, perhaps with a shorter route.

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