For his love of Knox County Mobile Meals, volunteer Charley Wood recently walked more than 200 miles across Spain.
Charley has been a Mobile Meals volunteer since 1995, delivering to homebound clients every Thursday he is in town. He and his wife own a travel business, European Experiences, which takes him overseas for about half the year.
He started delivering meals as a tribute to his mother and the friends and neighbors who looked after her as she aged. “She lived in Upper East Tennessee, and I was in Knoxville and couldn’t be there every day,” he said. “So I wanted to pay it forward. But I’ve been blessed far more than I’ve helped others.”
Charley had already completed several long-distance walks in Europe, but not the 500-mile Camino de Santiago across northern Spain. About a quarter of a million people walk it every year as a religious pilgrimage to St. James, one of Jesus’s apostles. Charley set his sights on it as a fundraiser for Mobile Meals.
“I let people know I was doing it and got pledges — some for each mile I completed and some just a set amount. I set a goal of completing the 500 miles in 40 days.”
As always when he travels, Charley most enjoys meeting people from other places. “The great takeaway is that people on the other side of the world are just like us; they have the same concerns and the same joys as we do. People are just people.”
Carrying a 20-pound backpack, Charley, 77, set out by himself, staying at hostels and inns along the way. Regrettably, an old injury flared up and Charley had to abandon his journey after 209 miles. He was on the trail for 17 days.
Still, he raised $24,000 so far for Mobile Meals of his $50,000 goal. He’s accepting donations through the month of June. Go to https://givebutter.com/m4mm to donate.