Auburn walker makes stop in Kent; walking to raise money for severely ill Kent boy

Don Stevenson has walked more than 40,000 miles for a variety of charities over the last dozen years. But Stevenson rates his current cause as one of the most worthy of all.

Auburn resident Don Stevenson

Auburn resident Don Stevenson

Don Stevenson has walked more than 40,000 miles for a variety of charities over the last dozen years. But Stevenson rates his current cause as one of the most worthy of all.

Stevenson, 74, of Auburn, expects to walk 1,200 miles by the end of September to help raise money for Cullen Steele, his 10-year-old Kent friend.

Steele is fighting the effects of severe idiopathic arterial pulmonary hypertension – an incurable, life-threatening disease that does not allow the proper blood flow between the heart and lungs. Steele is anticipating a possible double-lung and heart transplant because of the disease.

“I’ve done a lot of walking,” said Stevenson, as he took a short break Aug. 25 along the West Valley Highway in Kent during a 30-mile roundtrip walk from his Auburn home through Kent and Renton. “This is one of the most worthy causes I have ever walked for because I’m more in touch with the one who has the need. Cullen’s a good little kid and he wants to be a benefit to the community.”

Stevenson met Steele and his family two years ago through the Make-A-Wish Foundation shortly after doctors diagnosed the young boy with the disease. Steele got his wish to meet President Bush in October 2008.

Stevenson walks to make people aware of Steele’s case and to raise money through the Indiana-based Children’s Organ Transplant Association, a nonprofit group formed in 1986 to help families pay for transplant-related expenses. Stevenson wears a fluorescent green vest when he walks that says he is walking 1,200 miles for COTA.

“Every once in a while people ask me what COTA is,” Stevenson said about his walks. “It raises a little bit of awareness for COTA.”

Stevenson started walking for Cullen July 6. He tries to average 20 to 30 miles per day, but doesn’t always get out every day to walk. He has about 270 miles left to reach his goal of 1,200 miles. He has walked most of the perimeter of the state and plans to walk to Seattle or maybe as far as Everett from his Auburn home.

“I usually take secondary roads and trails,” he said. “I’ve given myself plenty of leeway. I hope to be done by Sept. 22 so that gives me plenty of time.”

Stevenson and other volunteers for Steele plan to raise $75,000 to help cover the boy’s medical costs. Steele attends Auburn’s Holy Family Catholic School in Auburn, where he is a fifth grader this fall.

Steele wears a backpack pump that feeds him medicine through a chest tube every six minutes. The medication helps. Doctors hope they can hold off a transplant for Steele until he is at least 12, Stevenson said.

“The older he is the better chance he has to fight off rejection,” Stevenson said.

Despite the disease, Steele enjoys life as a 10 year old. He went swimming this summer for the first time in two years and enjoys history, cooking and playing video games.

The young boy also appreciates all of the support from Stevenson and others in the community.

“A lot of people want to help me,” Steele said in a July 16 Kent Reporter story. “And that makes me feel better.”

The inspiration of Steele motivates Stevenson.

“I decided to walk for him because he’s the sweetest little kid and he’s as smart as a whip,” Stevenson said.

How you can help

• Contributions: (online) www.cotaforcullens.com; (mail) 2501 W. Cota Drive, Bloomington, Ind., 47403; (e-mail) cota@cota.org. Donations may be made in person at any Wells Fargo Bank branch location using account number 3523561722

• Volunteers: Those who would like to help with fundraising activities for Cullen Steele can contact community coordinator Amy O’Donnell-Riley at 253-333-1755 or arjunyer@yahoo.com.

• Information: www.cota.org, 1-800-366-2682


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. FILE PHOTO
Discarded cigarette leads to arrest of Kent double homicide suspects

DNA reveals man, woman who reportedly killed two people in January 2023 at local motel

t
State Patrol chief thanks public for support of trooper shot in Kent

Trooper’s injuries are not life threatening despite being shot multiple times

t
Boy, 17, fatally shot in Kent in exchange of gunfire identified | Update

Shooting between subjects in vehicles Feb. 20 along East Valley Highway near South 180th Street

Car damaged by bullets during Feb. 19 Interstate 5 shooting. (Courtesy of Washington State Patrol)
King County Councilmember wants more info about I-5 shootings

The letter, addressed to WSP Chief John R. Batiste, comes in wake of a Feb. 19 drive-by shooting that occurred on I-5 in Tukwila that left a victim in critical condition.

t
Kent man, 83, dies after medical emergency while driving on East Hill

Reportedly died from medical issue prior to single-car crash Feb. 2o along 132nd Avenue SE

Rep. Mia Gregerson. COURTESY PHOTO, Legislative Support Services
Gregerson state bill aims to improve immigration support

Designed to better address needs of refugees, immigrants arriving in Washington state

t
Federal Way man faces charges for shooting, injuring trooper in Kent

Trooper reportedly shot nine times Feb. 16 after a struggle following foot pursuit

Courtesy image, U.S. Department of Justice
Kent man pleads guilty to selling guns to those with criminal histories

Sold more than 100 firearms to those barred from possessing guns

t
Man dies after shooting in Kent on King County Metro bus

Altercation between two men led to shooting Friday afternoon, Feb. 16

File photo
Puget Sound Energy files two-year rate plan for electric, natural gas

Driven by the state’s clean energy laws, the plan has been filed to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission.

Washington Early Support for Infants and Toddlers program advocacy group at the State Capitol for HB 1916. (Photo Courtesy of Kindering)
‘When services decline, it’s the kids who pay the price’

Legislative bill would recover funding for the Early Support for Infants and Toddlers program - and could save the state millions.

A screenshot of the King County Sheriff’s Office Guardian One helicopter view of the arrest of a Kent man after carjacking incidents Feb. 13 in Kent. COURTESY IMAGE, King County Sheriff’s Office
Kent man, woman charged in carjackings, stolen vehicles case

Tracking by King County Sheriff’s Office helicopter lasted nearly 50 minutes Feb. 13 across Kent