Greg Weemhoff and David Randall grew up together in the Lake Lucerne community in Bainbridge Township. In addition to being friends for life, they have also participated together in the annual Crop Walk event which is now called the Greg Weemhoff Geauga County Crop Hunger Walk.
This will be their 40th year in the Crop Walk, which raises money for world hunger as well as for hunger in Geauga County. Mr. Weemhoff, who has cerebral palsy and is unable to walk, is pushed the entire length of the walk in his wheelchair by Mr. Randall as they raise funds for the cause.
The walk is set for Sept. 29 starting in Chardon and is about 5 miles this year. Mr. Weemhoff’s sister-in-law Lori Weemhoff recently visited the Rotary Club of Chagrin Valley to talk about the event. It is not too early to start raising the money now for the cause.
“We’ve known each other since we were babies,” Mr. Randall said of his friendship with Mr. Weemhoff. Mr. Randall’s mother Anne Randall, a retired Kenston schools teacher, attended Michigan State University where she first met Mr. Weemhoff’s parents.
Mr. Randall noted that both his parents, Ed and Anne Randall, and Mr. Weemhoff’s parents, the late George and Sandy Weemhoff, coincidentally moved to the Lake Lucerne community in about 1967 and continued their friendship.
Mr. Randall and Mr. Weemhoff have been participating together in the Crop Walk since they were 12. Both graduated from Kenston High School. Mr. Randall raised his family in Lake Lucerne as well. They are both 52 now and they plan to continue in the Crop Walk.
The event started out years ago with 10 miles and this year it will be five miles, Mr. Randall said. For many years, the walk started at the Geauga County Fairgrounds in Burton. Now, it starts at Mountain Run Station Park in Hambden Township.
“We’ve walked in all kinds of weather, including hail storms and even lightening when we literally sprinted the last two miles to the end,” Mr. Randall recalled. “Greg looks forward to the event all year long. The Crop Walk marks the New Year for us. We’ll retire when we’re 80. Greg always smiles about that.”
While Mr. Weemhoff is nonverbal, he makes his enthusiasm for the event known to all. “He likes to be at the front of the pack,” Mr. Randall said when they are walking. “We are right up there.
“Greg can operate a computer key board with a head stick. His communication is often with sounds and expressions and the more you know him, the more you know what he is thinking,” Mr. Randall said.
Mr. Randall said a neighbor in Lake Lucerne, Bill Franz, has been walking with them for 20 years as well.
“Greg likes to be active,” according to Mr. Randall. One year, he went to Austria where a friend put him on his back and they skied down a mountain side. He’s been there four times now. Each winter, he snowmobiles with the help of friends.
“There is a group of physically disabled who gather at Boston Mills ski resort on Sundays with friends and family and Greg likes to be a part of that,” Mr. Randall said. “Greg was also a torch bearer in the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996.
“Greg is present at every sporting event for Kenston schools,” Mr. Randall said. “He is one of the biggest Kenston Bomber fans. He also has season tickets to the Cleveland Indians games.” They went on Monday, and his brothers Jeff and Dean Weemhoff take him to the games as do friends.
He has caregivers 24 hours a day, seven days a week at a home in Lake Lucerne that is outfitted for him. “We include Greg in all the events at the Lake,” Mr. Randall said. “We had a big bonfire Friday night and he was there.”
People can donate for his participation in the Crop Walk, Mr. Randall said. They are going to hold a fundraiser at the Blazin Bills Restaurant in Burton Township in Mr. Weemhoff’s name with proceeds going to the Crop Walk.
Checks to support Crop Walk, denoting it is for Mr. Weemhoff’s fundraising efforts, can be made out to Church World Services, and sent to 17152 Sunset Drive, Chagrin Falls, 44023. One can also make donations, also recognizing Mr. Weemhoff, for Crop Walk online through the Crop Walk website at crophungerwalk.org/burtonoh.
The Crop Walk will start this year at Mountain Run Station, 12700 Chardon-Windsor Road in Chardon.
Mr. Randall is a graphic designer and marketer as well as owner of Cleveland Branding Co., and the recently introduced lifestyle brand, Water High Co. He said he hopes to design a T-shirt for Mr. Weemhoff and his supporters in honor of their 40th anniversary in the Crop Walk. They might sell them with proceeds going to the Crop Walk effort, Mr. Randall said.