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Olympic star Joyner-Kersee to lead Unity Walk

October 19, 2017

Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee is scheduled to visit Fort Wayne this month for a Love Train Unity Walk, the organizer of the second annual event said Wednesday.

The theme is “Take a Stand & Take a Hand.” Rev. Bill McGill, organizer of the walk, said in an emailed statement he hopes it will serve as the springboard for quarterly events highlighting the need for racial reconciliation.

The walk begins at 4 p.m. Oct. 29 at Lawton Park, crossing the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge and ending at Freimann Square, where a brief program of music and remarks will be held.

The goal is to have at least 2,500 participants, sending a “clear and irrefutable message that the majority of our citizens support total equality,” said McGill, pastor of Imani Baptist Temple in Fort Wayne and executive pastor of One Church-One Offender.

Joyner-Kersee was in Fort Wayne in March 2015 for a similar event that marked the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, that came to be known as Bloody Sunday.

She has been called the greatest female athlete of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated and her athletic accomplishments “are literally second to none,” McGill said.

Last year, the inaugural unity walk included survivors of what became known as the Charleston Church Massacre.

Joyner-Kersee will be at the front of this year’s walk. By the conclusion of her career in the heptathlon and long jump events, Joyner-Kersee had won six Olympic medals, three of them gold, spanning four consecutive Olympic games, and four world championships.

Off the field, Joyner-Kersee has been a philanthropist and an advocate for children’s education, health issues : including asthma, from which she has suffered throughout her life : racial equality, social reform and women’s rights.

“These are challenging days for our nation,” McGill said, “but I still believe the majority of our citizens are ready to see love and unity arrive at our station. The march has a very simple structure: no required registration or reservation, just free and voluntary participation.”

For more information, call McGill at 410-3430.