11th year, Grandma Thomas walks to raise money for youth center
- For 11 years Grandma Marjorie Thomas, 73, has led an annual walk
from Chinle to Window Rock to raise money to build a youth center
in the Central Navajo Agency.
trying to solicit funds," Thomas said on Monday while taking
a lunch break along U.S. Highway 191 on the first day of the event.
"It's a good way to fund-raise."
started the walk in 1993 and so far has raised about $85,000. "We
need to take the kids off of the streets," she said, "and
they need to be in a place where they congregate and have fun.
60 people braved the hot pavement and scorching sun the first day
of the walk on Monday afternoon. Thomas and Apache County Sheriff
Brian Hounshell said the walk began with 100 people in the morning,
which is the largest amount of people to participate.
said the walk last year raised about $4,000.
was the most we raised, last year," she said. "It seems
like there is little interest from the people."
said offices from the Navajo Nation have donated to the cause but
the Navajo Nation Council has yet to offer any assistance.
also said before President Joe Shirley Jr. was elected into office,
he promised her that the youth center would be built.
has happened yet," she said. "Not one word."
said children have been the core of her life's work as an educator
and school superintendent in Chinle. Her grandmother, Daaghaa'i
yee' bee asdzaa, taught her that children should be helped.
teaching comes from my grandmother," she said. "She used
to say that we should sing, talk, pray, counsel and help children.
She used to say help them in any way and every way you can. Help
the kids involved in drugs and violence, it is the parent's fault
for not teaching or listening to them. She said parents should communicate
with their children.
all good kids but they need attention," she said, "If
nobody listens then that's when they go to the gangs and violence.
The kids are good. If they know you respect them then they respect
Apache County Sheriff's Department has supported the walk for the
past five years. In that time Hounshell said the amount of participants
has gradually increased.
Nation, Apache County and state of Arizona public safety vehicles
escorted the walkers.
County Supervisors Jim Claw, Tom White and David Brown and the sheriff's
department are donating meals for the walkers.
sheriff's department also donated fluorescent green T-shirts.
Thomas adopted me into her family," Hounshell said. "I'm
her son. If it has anything to do with kids, that's what we're there
said his department does not shy away from events that support children.
is probably the most well-known grandma on the reservation,"
he said. "I can see it in her eyes. Just when you look at grandma,
I can see the desire in her eyes. She will not give up. Our strength
is drawn from her desire."
plans to continue raising money for the children.
want to continue to walk as long as I can walk," she said.
"I'll walk for the kids. If I become invalid then I'll walk
with my wheelchair."
Central Navajo Youth Opportunities Coalition, Inc., a nonprofit
organization, has organized the annual Grandma Thomas Walk-A-Thon.
can be sent to:
P.O. Box 976,
Chinle, AZ 86503
P.O. Box 2060,
Chinle, AZ 86503
and money orders only are accepted and should be made payable to
CNYOC, Inc. Receipts for donations will be mailed back.