CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - When you read the story of Lloyd Lancaster I hope it inspires you. He has certainly inspired me.
Lloyd is 88-years-old and is a very busy guy. He spends a good deal of this time these days gearing up for the 37th annual CROP Hunger Walk, which steps off at 2:30pm, October 18th at Independence Park.
The walk and the fundraising are Lloyd's way of making change in this world, helping those who have no food to eat or fresh water to drink. Lloyd's walked the CROP Hunger Walk for THIRTY-THREE YEARS! He remembers when, in the early days, the walk was 10 miles long. Now the walk is 6 Kilometers, close to 4 miles.
But it's not JUST the miles he's covered over the last thirty three years that's impressive, it's the money he's raised to fight hunger in the process!
From his very first walk through the 2014 CROP Walk, Lloyd has raised $218,509.00!
PHOTOS: Charlotte's 2014 CROP Walk
Lloyd tells me he has never really known what it is like to be without food, "I was lucky that way, I went without things, but never food."
When I asked him why walk for 33 years? He had a simple answer, "Just the fact that it helps to relieve hunger all over the world and 25 percent of the money collected stays here in Mecklenburg County. I just wanted to be a part of that. I've been fortunate enough to never be hungry."
I learned about the 88-year-old Charlottean from my friends at the Charlotte CROP Hunger Walk. I work with them every year and asked my friend Shay Merritt, the Executive Director, "Do you know any heroes among the thousands of walkers?"
She had a long list of great contributors who walk every year…too many to name. But Lloyd Lancaster's story grabbed me.
Lloyd, is a bit shy, not the kind guy who is really comfortable being called a 'hero'. He is just on a mission and he's humble about it. I've found most remarkable people who choose selfless extraordinary lives don't know why the rest of us think they're heroic, it's their "normal". Lloyd Lancaster's life is extraordinary.
Thirty-three years ago the father of four made a conscious choice to make a difference. He's meticulous about his fundraising. He has kept records since his first walk. He doesn't use email. He asks for sponsors for his walk either face-to-face or over the phone.
"I talk to my Sunday school class and mainly I get on the phone and call people. Someone said it would be a lot easier if you sent them emails, but that's not for me," Lloyd said. That 'high-touch' and personal contact with his committed sponsors is probably why he's been so successful over the years.
There is a lot of symbolism in the actual CROP Hunger walk. The faith-based effort hopes to bring awareness to just how far millions of people around the world must walk each day to get basic necessities, like food and water. The money raised helps families and children all over the world and helps agencies who serve the hungry right here at home as well.
MORE INFO: Click here for more about the CROP Walk
Lloyd first walked with the Boy Scouts from at St. Stephens United Methodist. He says walking is the easy part. Seeing the stories of the lives touched over the years keeps him going.
"It gives me incentive to ask people to donate and to walk. The walking part has been the easiest part. The hardest this is getting everyone to participate by putting their money on the line." Lloyd has a list of two hundred and sixty-one people he calls every year.
I told him he's got an impressive legacy, "Oh I'm glad that I can do it. I haven't thought of it that way. They depend on me to bring in about $14,000. So that's why I keep making the calls and keep walking."
Even on years when work or family affairs took him out of town during the walk, Lloyd still walked, wherever he was. He plans to make the trek until he can't walk anymore.
This year, his oldest son Harry, who is concerned about Lloyd walking that far, will be by his side. And you can be sure, as soon as his walking shoes are off, Lloyd will get about the business of next year. He's always got the next walk in his sights.
Lloyd, thank you for reminding all of us that we can be agents of change at any age! You're truly Mo's Hero!