by Sandi Hansen
The Sonoma Index-Tribune
06.10.05 – Canadian walker Jacques Gauthier has finally ended his walk around North America that brought him to Sonoma this past spring.
The 66-year old Gauthier arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia on May 25, after beginning his trek in Montreal and taking 11 and 1/2 months to walk a total of 5,625 miles.
Gauthier has accomplished two major goals with his journey: to keep himself healthy and to spread the word about alternatives to conventional medicines and treatments.
In 1981 at the age of 41, he was paralyzed by debilitating osteoporosis and arthritis and looking at spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Rejecting conventional treatment and medicines, Gauthier turned to a healer who gave him support in stretching, walking,
exercising daily and using spiritual guidance.
Today, a picture of health and positive thinking, he is extolling the virtues of stretching and walking to all who will listen. He believes that reliance on traditional drugs is not always the answer. Gauthier takes no medicine and has not had an aspirin in years. “Stretching, he said, improves your blood circulation, takes care of all the clogs in
your body, gives you oxygen and you’re getting back the power to help strengthen your immune system.”
When Gauthier walked into Sonoma in late April, people seemed drawn to him and his colorful motor home that followed him on the road, driven by a companion. The outside of the home was complete with messages written on it about people not having to live in pain. He and his companion were offered free RV parking at several locations in Sonoma
while they stayed here. He even taught stretching classes at a local church and a chiropractor’s office, building an even greater fan base for his spiritual and physical odyssey.
”I stayed in Sonoma because many Sonomans almost begged me to teach them stretching,” he said. “I realized a dream that was important for me. I am convinced that I helped some people to start enjoying a pain-free life.”
Upon arriving in Montreal Gauthier, having averaged 20 to 25 miles a day of walking, Gauthier e-mailed the Index-Tribune saying “I feel great. I realize after this walk that everybody should have dreams and simply do everything they can to realize their dream.”
Gauthier vowed he would return to Sonoma in the future. His Web site chronicles his trek and includes a log of places he’s stayed, including Sonoma; www.stretching-plus.com.