Eleven-year-old Leneah Knickerbocker along with her father, Jean-Michel Knickerbocker, spent 10 days walking from their home in Idaho Falls to Grantsville, so Leneah could visit her cousin.
The Knickerbocker’s trek of over 250 miles was inspired by a phone call between Leneah and her cousin.
“In February I was talking to my cousin on the phone and I said, ‘I want to come and see you’,” Leneah said. “She told me, ‘Then come over here.’ I told her that I couldn’t do that and I didn’t have a way to get down there and she said ‘walk,” so I decided I would walk.”
After her phone conversation with her cousin, Leneah let her parents know about her idea to walk to Grantsville. They agreed, but it was decided that Jean-Michel would accompany Leneah on her walk.
“I was proud of her for thinking of something big to do and going after it,” Jean-Michel said. “It became clear we needed someone who was going to be consistent and with her the whole time she would be walking. We didn’t want to send her walking down the road 25 miles a day with random people, so I knew I needed to go with her.”
It was decided that August would be the best time to begin the walk, because it would take some time to get everything into order.
During the month of July, the two began to get into shape by doing practice walks.
“We started from our front door on a Saturday a month before we left and we went out as far as we could go and the next Saturday, my wife brought us to the point we had left off at and we walked as far as we could go,” Jean-Michel explained. “We kept doing that and we had worked our way down to Arimo, Idaho before we actually started the walk.”
Finally, on Aug. 8, the pair set out on their journey with a goal of 25 miles a day but they quickly realized 25 miles in the heat is a lot, so they ended up averaging around 20 miles a day.
The pair knew they couldn’t walk over 250 miles for nothing, so they decided to raise money for two causes that are close to their hearts — the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the United Cerebral Palsy of Middle Tennessee.
“My aunt died of leukemia and I have a cousin who has cerebral palsy,” Leneah said.
They aren’t sure how much has been raised for the two organizations yet.
To combat the heat during their walk, they carried umbrellas and to ensure their safety, the pair walked against the flow of traffic.
“One of the scariest parts was coming around the mountain on SR-201,” Jean-Michel said. “We were walking on the eastbound side of 201 and there are some areas where the shoulder is only 12 inches and there is a barrier. During a large majority of their walk, the two had different friends and family join them for a few miles. It was nice to have people walking with us sometimes.”
The pair had an RV support vehicle following them the whole way and at the end of each day, they would stop and stay in the RV.
During their walk, Leneah said she counted over 125 dead animals on the side of the road.
“All of the dead animals were really sad,” she said.
They also found mattresses, dressers, desks, a waffle iron, and shopping carts.
“Why in the world is all of that on the side of the road?” Leneah asked.
They ran into a lot of bicyclists during their journey but not many walkers.
They finally ended up in Grantsville on Aug. 17 around noon. They stopped at Maverik to get a bite to eat and chat with the Transcript Bulletin.
When they aren’t walking, Leneah and her father enjoy singing and drawing. Leneah likes to sing Disney music and Jean-Michel likes to sing church and country music.
Jean-Michel owns a business called Orange Electric.
Leneah and Jean-Michel want to thank their family for their support, along with Jean-Michel’s employees for their help running the business while he’s gone. They also thank everyone who donated and supported them.
To donate to the selected charities or to find out more about their walk, please visit the Facebook page entitled “Leneah’s Walk.”