By Ken MacLeod
If you’re driving on Route 66 in the next few weeks and notice a couple of young men walking, one carrying an overburdened Ping golf bag and the other pushing a stroller, with Walking Across America signs, do what you can to help.
These are a couple of good guys on a journey for a great cause.
Kirk Sells, 30, left his hometown of Chicago 64 days ago with $15 in his pocket, bound for Compton, Calif., where he teaches after school music programs, including the art of rap music. He was joined about 34 days later in St. Louis by friend Logan Mayberry, 20, a native of Kennett, Mo., who quit his job as a postal worker in Los Angeles to join Sells on this adventure.
Sells’ goal is to unite a variety of non-profit corporations to help touch the lives of the more than 3,000 high school students in poverty-stricken Compton with a variety of positive programs. One of those involves sending youngsters to Chicago for summer programs where they learn to caddy. Sells attended Northwestern on an Evans Scholarship, a program administered by the Western Golf Association which helps caddies with post-secondary education.
Sells and Mayberry chatted with Golf Oklahoma today, appropriately enough, at the Route 66 Diner in the Hard Rock Casino, enjoying an overnight stay provided by a benefactor they met in northwest Arkansas. It’s been a spiritual and emotional journey, as well as a rugged physical test that has included a couple of days walking in sleet, snow and single digit temperatures.
Through the 64 days Sells’ has been on the road thus far, he said the generosity of the people he’s met has been overwhelming.
“So many people have stopped to chat or help or put us up for the night,” he said. “I’ve been amazed by the grace of the people we’ve met, particularly here in Oklahoma.”
The journey is being chronicled on their Straight Intta Compton page on Facebook. The movie Straight Outta Compton about the rise of rap group NWA has helped raise the familiarity of many people they’ve met about the city they’re trying to help, but Sells said it’s more about everyone doing good for those in every city.
The duo planned to walk to downtown Tulsa Wednesday and view some of the historic Route 66 landmarks, thanks to a connection with Tulsa city councilor Jeannie Cue, a prominent member of the Route 66 Commission. From there they will take Southwest Boulevard toward Sapulpa and on toward Oklahoma City. The journey has no set timetable, and much will depend on the progress they make, particularly as they get into more desolate lands in New Mexico and Arizona, where the distance between towns can often be measured in hundreds of miles.
The two stuck to Route 66 until veering off to Branson, Mo., and then coming down to northwest Arkansas and over to Tulsa on Highway 412. They plan to stay close to the Mother Road as much as possible from here until arriving in Compton in the summer.
Sells trained for the journey by carrying two bags on two loops daily at Medinah Golf Club. He said carrying the bag with all his gear is heavier than a normal bag, “like carrying for the guy who has 40 golf balls in his bag.”
The two walk close to 20 miles daily depending on weather and where they are staying. They have been put up by many families and individuals along the route and Sells said the sojourn has been life affirming and spiritual.
So if you do come across the enterprising duo this week, have a chat, buy them a lunch or dinner and show them that Oklahoma is the friendliest state they’ll encounter.