AZ man walks thousands of miles picking up litter

Saturday, August 16, 2014 - 9:35am

Long before the sun is high in the sky, Jerry Meyers, 72, is on the move.

"I wear out a couple pair of shoes a year, two or three," Meyers said.

What started out as a recommendation from his doctor for exercise has turned into an 8-year ritual, walking Recker Road in Mesa every morning and picking up litter along the way.

"I usually got a sack that I look for stuff, you know. I haven't seen anything yet here," Meyers said.

"I've had people stop and wanted to give me a ride and I said, 'no, I just enjoy the exercise," Meyers recalled.

Jack Carlson happened to drive by Meyers several years ago and something in him told him to stop.

"I'll be darn, there's Jerry walking and a little light went on and I said, 'Jack, why don't you get to know this guy and find out what you can do,'" Carlson said.

What he found out was the two Midwestern guys with military backgrounds had a lot in common.

They soon became friends and that's when Carlson decided to do the math on Meyers' jaunts.

"It's between 7,000 and 8,000 miles, which to me is very impressive," Carlson said.

Not to mention the tons of trash that are no longer on the street, so Carlson wanted to pay it forward to his friend.

Carlson, with the help of CBS 5's Pay It Forward program, presented Meyers with $500 cash.

Meyers has always been an active guy, playing and coaching several softball teams over the years. But diabetes has slowed him down these days.

"I have people wave and honk at me and I don't know who they are. They're nice and friendly people and I try to wave when I can," Meyers said.

While he doesn't think his litter walks are any big deal, he has developed a philosophy from the people he bumps into and says it's helped him trudge on when the shoes are worn and the days are hot.

"People are nice people regardless of your age or what you look like or clothes they wear. It's the person inside," Meyers said. "Live a normal life and help one another out if you can."

Meyers tried to donate the money right back to Carlson's church, but Carlson made him keep it, if only to buy shoes for several more years of community service.


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