The goat-to guys for cancer research
By Tony Graf email@example.com May 26, 2012 8:02PM
From left to right, Marcellus, Michigan, resident Blake Ferrell, Memphis, Tennessee, resident Phil Aldrich, Coos Bay, Oregon, resident Matt Gregory, Prescott, Arizona, resident P.J. Fisher and Marcellus, Michigan, resident Kyle Townsend walk with Wrigley the goat along Scott St. Friday, May 25, 2012, in Joliet. The group was walking around 2,000 miles to raise money for cancer research as well as to attempt to break the curse on the Chicago Cubs. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 3, 2012 11:14AM
JOLIET — They want to kick the hex on Route 66.
On Friday, five men walked through Joliet with a goat in tow — on a long hike from Arizona to Wrigley Field. They think their cross-country walk will help the Chicago Cubs by breaking a curse that has caused the team to lose for decades.
The 2,000-mile walk is raising money for cancer research, and it has many stops along the old Route 66, which stretches between Chicago and Los Angeles.
The fable has it that Billy Sianis placed a curse on the Cubs in 1945 after he was asked to leave the baseball park with his pet goat.
The five hikers explained their strategy Friday afternoon: Since Sianis’ goat was shown disrespect, the hikers plan to reverse the curse by giving their goat, Wrigley, some respectful travel accommodations.
They are hauling the goat on a three-wheel cart — a goat-cart? — that has screen protection, to provide adequate ventilation, and a shield from the sun. Inside, the goat has hay for a little cushioning and something to munch on.
“It’s really the Cadillac of pet carriers,” said Blake Ferrell, of Marcellus, Mich., one of the hikers.
The hikers are all Cubs fans, from different parts of the country, who met at work in Alaska. They stopped for a break Friday afternoon on Scott Street in downtown Joliet, just south of the Ruby Street bridge. They allowed Wrigley to stretch its legs, and they discussed the last leg of their journey.
“It feels great to be in the Chicago area, with only a couple of days left to go,” said Kyle Townsend, of Marcellus, Mich. “It feels good to be doing something for a good cause, for cancer patients everywhere.”
Donations to the walk will benefit the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center based in Seattle, group members said.
Near the goal
After Wrigley joined the crew, the hikers set off on Feb. 25 in Mesa, Ariz., which is the Cubs’ spring training home. After reaching Amarillo, Texas, the hikers have tried to follow the old Route 66 corridor. Crossing every state line has been a milestone.
Reaching the Joliet area on Friday was another milestone. After almost 2,000 miles, they have entered the suburbs of their destination city.
“Just getting into this urban area of Chicago — it kind of blows me away, what people can do when they get together and come up with crazy ideas,” said P.J. Fisher, of Prescott, Ariz. “It really hasn’t fully sunk in yet, and I don’t expect it to for a while.”
“It’s just been an unbelievable adventure that I’m fortunate enough to share with four of my good friends,” said Philip Aldrich, of Memphis, Tenn.
Aldrich mentioned a relative with leukemia. He is dedicating this trip to her and to everyone else who has fought the battle. Everyone in this group has had a relative with cancer.
The group — which also inlcudes Matt Gregory of Coos Bay, Ore. — likely will be in Chicago on Sunday, for a walk on Michigan Avenue.
Then they plan to reach the finish line — the Friendly Confines — on Tuesday.
“We’re probably going to have a short little hike from the WGN studios in Chicago to Wrigley Field,” Aldrich said. “We’re hoping that whoever wants to come out and walk those last two miles with us will come join us.”
Stay in touch
For more information on the hikers’ adventures, visit www.crack
thecurse.com or www.facebook.com/crackthecurse.
The Facebook page will have the Tuesday morning schedule, when Wrigley and the guys begin the last stage of their journey to Wrigley Field.
“The finish line is very close,” Aldrich said.