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Memorial walk for Jesse Nealey on Saturday

Rod Wellington with his Jesse bear. Photo Greg Holden

Rod Wellington with his Jesse bear. Photo Greg Holden

By Greg Holden

The third annual Jesse’s Walk is readying for Saturday, October 19 when Blenheim is host to the 5.5 km event.

Jesse Nealey died after a tragic accident on Talbot Street in Blenheim in September 2011 while riding his bicycle. Every year since there has been a memorial walk to raise awareness about safety. Money raised from the walk goes to the Chatham-Kent Children’s Safety Village, where children can learn about safety in programs that are free due to the Jesse’s Walk.

Organizer of the walk, Rod Wellington, is more known to CKReview readers as an adventurer who recently paddled from source to sea on the Missouri-Mississippi river system. Wellington held a walk when the Outreach for Hunger building burned down, that helped that organization get back on its feet. During that walk he was joined by Annette Nealey, the mother of Jesse Nealey. During their walk together, a proud and loving mother spoke often about her son and his accomplishments. Jesse died less than a week later and Wellington was so emotionally moved that the walk to increase safety took shape.

In the first two years more than $10,000 has been raised by the walk.

“Proceeds from Jesse’s Walk make it possible for students to attend safety programs at the Chatham-Kent Children’s Safety Village at no cost,” said Wellington. “By enabling more children to enroll in these well-structured and well-presented programs, our collective peace of mind as a community is sure to flourish. Safety is everyone’s responsibility. We are asking people to do their part today and every day.”

Route of the walk in Blenheim

Route of the walk in Blenheim

The symbols of the walk, the Jesse Bears, were made by Jesse’s great-aunt Marion Whaley. She took t-shirts, swimming trunks and other pieces of Jesse’s clothing to hand craft 60 Jesse bears. Wellington took his on his source to sea adventure and is hoping people will bring their bears to the walk.

There is no registration fee for the walk. Everyone is invited to take part. Liability forms, pledge sheets and route maps are available as printable PDFs at Paper copies of these forms are available at Chatham Bowlerama, 100 Keil Drive South, Chatham. Chatham Bowlerama will also be accepting cash and cheque donations on behalf of the Chatham-Kent Children’s Safety Village. Online donations can be made at
Walk organizers are hoping to surpass the $3200 total raised during the last years walk.