DODGE CITY — Peter Munson speaks softly and carries a big stick.
The 61-year-old Episcopal priest hiked into Dodge City on Friday, marking a halfway point on a 3,676-mile journey across the United States to raise money for four charities close to his heart. Munson said his momentum is fueled by a call from God.
Locals can meet him Sunday at St. Cornelius Episcopal Church, 200 W. Spruce St., for 10 a.m. services, where he will talk the talk about being faithful, helping children and pursuing dreams. There he will also invite anyone to walk the walk with him.
In Munson’s dream, he raises $1 for children with every bend of the knee — 6 million steps in total — that will take him from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
This is now a full-time job for Munson, who has walked eight hours a day, six days a week since March.
The lifelong hiker quit his job preaching in Colorado and began to try to raise $6 million. He documents everything he does and exactly where donations will go on his website, www.6millionstepsforkids.com.
"People get called in different ways," Munson said. "If you listen, there’s probably a calling for each individual to serve. I need people to spread the word for the children."
The Boulder resident said he handpicked the charities, which include The Remar Children’s Home and School in La Libertad, El Salvador, which has already received funding for an administration building directly from donations to his website, and the Street Fraternity in Denver, Episcopal Relief and Development and the Episcopal Church in Colorado.
"I wanted to fund something while I was still walking," Munson said. "These donations have already borne fruit."
This week he followed US-56 highway west through Larned and Kinsley and reached Dodge City via US-50 highway "pretty fried and with a blister" on his toe. He will depart for Cimarron on Monday morning along US-400 highway.
Because it is illegal to walk on interstate highways, he chose the route according to which roads he could walk on that would possibly link him with Episcopal churches and provide options for lodging along the way, said his wife Julia Munson in an email.
He also was looking at the overall picture of weather patterns for the different seasons, she said. The lifelong hiker has marched through this summer's heat wave, which has consistently reached over 100 degrees, without deviating from his schedule.
"He has found Kansas difficult in terms of weather, but exceptional in terms of kindness and hospitality," she said. "While he certainly is in a hot stretch in Kansas, it is preferred to an even more southern route or a more northern route that may lead to cold conditions later in the walk."
Munson’s wife said he was also intrigued to follow the Santa Fe Trail, "where many pioneers have gone before him!"
For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation online, visit www.6millionstepsforkids.org.