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81-Year-Old Finishes 63 Mile Journey

81-Year-Old Finishes 63 Mile Journey

Posted - Jun. 12, 2003 at 10:30 p.m.



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John Hollenhorst reporting For the last three days, a man who's nearly 82 years old has been walking. And walking. And walking.

It's a 63 mile sentimental journey to his birthplace.

He takes the walk every year.

And this year, his hometown finally noticed.

Ever since his 75th birthday, John Wightman has taken this walk once a year. 63 miles from his home in Taylorsville, to his birthplace in Payson. It's to honor his pioneer ancestors who founded the town.

For the first seven years he labored in obscurity. Hardly anyone knew about him.

But this time, Payson noticed.

A police escort met him on the outskirts.

The Mayor fell into step with him for awhile.

Spectators turned out here and there to wish him well.

JOHN WIGHTMAN: "IT'S AMAZING HOW MANY PEOPLE CAME OUT AND THEY CALLED THEIR FAMILY OUT, AND THEY ALL WAVED TO ME. AND PEOPLE WENT BY IN CARS AND HONKED AND WAVED, YOU KNOW, BECAUSE THEY KNEW WHAT I WAS DOING. HAH, HAH, HAH, IT WAS NEAT!"

Wightman ended the walk a little beat. But up-beat.

JOHN WIGHTMAN/TAYLORSVILLE: "YEAH, I'M A LITTLE TIRED, UH UH. BUT I COULD GO ANOTHER FEW MILES IF I HAD TO."

He was surprised to be greeted by a cousin he'd never met before.

MAYOR BERNELL EVANS: "TO THINK THAT A MAN IN HIS 80'S WOULD PUT FORTH THE EFFORT TO DO SOMETHING LIKE THIS, TO RECOGNIZE HIS PAST COMMUNITY, IS SOMETHING SPECIAL. AND I'D SAY HE'S A SPECIAL MAN." Q: DO YOU THINK YOU'LL BE DOING IT NEXT YEAR WITH HIM?" A: "IF HE'D INVITE ME, I WOULD, HA, HAH, HAH."

JOHN HOLLENHORST REPORTING: "AS FOR WIGHTMAN HIMSELF, YOU CAN PRETTY WELL BET MONEY ON IT. HE EXPECTS TO BE BACK ON THE ROAD NEXT YEAR, ABOUT THE TIME OF HIS 83RD BIRTHDAY.

Wightman began his walk Tuesday at 54th South and Redwood Road.

Relatives drove him home to sleep the first night.

The second night he spent on the road in a Provo Motel.

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