When a young girl came into Santa Monica pediatrician Dr. Bob Hamilton’s temporary clinic in Sierra Leone in Africa, she looked so sick and emaciated he assumed she was suffering from untreated cancer or HIV. After examining her, he discovered that she had a simple case of pneumonia. He treated her, and Hamilton says she came back to the clinic looking like a new person.
It’s stories like these that motivate Dr. Hamilton to make medical relief trips to Africa, where he and a team of doctors and volunteers from Lighthouse Medical Missions travel to help.
To raise money for these trips, Dr. Hamilton has organized the annual “Walk to Africa” event that is now in its fourth year, which will take place in Crescent Bay Park in Santa Monica this Saturday, June 23.
The walk is eight miles long, with the idea that if 1,000 people walk eight miles, they will have collectively walked the equivalent 8,000 miles from here to Africa. About 650 people walked in last year’s event, and Hamilton hopes that this year they will reach their goal of 1,000 people.
Lighthouse Medical Missions, which is affiliated with Lighthouse Church on Wilshire and 20th street, has made trips to seven countries in Africa, from Sierra Leone to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This year, however, the group plans to go to Kyrgyzstan in central Asia.
The walk will begin at Crescent Bay Park and continue along Ocean Font Walk, go along the Pier, San Vicente, Montana, and loop back to the Promenade. This year there will also be a “children’s walk,” for those too young to complete the eight miles.
At last year’s event on June 26, walk participants raised more than $55,000.
Patricia Heaton (“The Middle”, “Everybody Loves Raymond”) and Mark Steines of Fox’s “Entertainment Tonight” are scheduled to attend.
For more information, visit www.walktoafrica.com or call 310.264.0634.