Kindness walk makes way back through area

He walked across the country once and is doing it again because his message of honoring fallen soldiers and those killed in 9/11 means that much to him.

Armand Young, a native of West Virginia, has returned to the Marshalltown area, on a walk from New York City to Santa Monica, Calif. He began his first walk in 2007, starting from California and making it to Ground Zero in NYC in 2011.

Young carries a bamboo pole with 522 flags attached to it and has people he meets sign the flags.

“I ask people to sign them and to do an act of kindness within 24 hours to honor somebody who lost their life in 9/11 or a soldier who lost their life,” Young said.

Young now has more than 569,000 signatures on the pole and flags and he expects to have more than 1 million signatures when he reaches Santa Monica in the next eight months.

He’s had hundreds of celebrities sign the kindness pole including sports teams and famous musicians.

“I’ve had Merle Haggard, Rob Zombie and the band Korn sign it,” Young said.

The journey hasn’t been easy. He’s stopped when his mother was ill and then when his sister got in a car accident. He said he walks in memory of both of them as well.

“I’ve been through a lot,” Young said.

He also stopped for more than a year to spend more time with his wife in West Virginia and also took a break this past winter when temperatures were bitterly cold.

With springtime in the air, the walk is back on this week during his trip through Iowa. On this trip back west, he travels with a car between towns and walks through the towns on what he calls the Human Kindness Walk.

“I’m trying to change the world with kindness,” Young said.

Young has walked hundreds of thousands of miles since he started in 2007 and now averages approximately 10 miles a day. He was in Marshalltown Wednesday to visit friends, but will make his official walk through the town in the next couple of days.

Throughout his journey, he’s been offered several big awards, but doesn’t want to accept them.

“I don’t want an award for it,” Young said. “I’m walking for my heroes. I’m walking for the fallen soldiers and the fallen firefighters.”