This week in Barbour County, we saw a rare local example of a true grass-roots movement. Concerned local residents stood together to overcome an obstacle - or, in this case, to literally walk their way around an obstacle.
On Monday morning, a pair of Barbour coaches began a 177-mile journey from Philippi to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The two are making the trek entirely on foot, to raise money for middle school sports in Barbour County.
Nick Mayle, a football coach and science teacher at Philippi Middle School, and Marcus Johnson, a football coach at Philip Barbour High School, organized the One Step at a Time walk after the Barbour County Board of Education terminated middle school coaches' contracts in February.
At Monday's kick-off to the walk, West Virginia University Athletic Director Oliver Luck and Jonathan Kimble, the WVU Mountaineer mascot, walked the first three miles of the journey with Mayle and Johnson.
"I am a big believer not only in sports, but in extracurricular activities such as drama, newspaper and other activities that help keep students engaged and help them stay in school," Luck told The Inter-Mountain. "I want to do what I can do to help."
As of Friday, Mayle and Johnson were about seven miles from the Hall of Fame, where a reception will be held for them today. Proceeds from the reception will go toward the cause.
Mayle and Johnson should be applauded for their commitment- and ingenuity - in finding a unique way to combat the problem of funding Barbour County middle school sports. Also deserving of praise are the support crew accompanying them to Canton. Garry Mayle - Nick's dad - and college student Toby Poling have driven the support vehicles and walked many of the miles with the coaches.
We hope the One Step at a Time walk - combined with the fundraising work previously done by the Barbour All County Sports Organization - raises enough money to keep middle school sports going in Barbour County. We're sure Mayle's and Johnson's feet are plenty sore by now, but we expect the success of their reception in Canton will keep them from feeling any pain today.