Working toward a better life, one step at a time |

Working toward a better life, one step at a time

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer

Richard “Skip” Getz is on the walk of his life. Before he is done he will have covered 1,285 miles, traversing three mountain ranges and the largest desert in the United States.

He’s chosen to make the journey because his youngest son, Galen, can’t.

Six-year-old Galen has cerebral palsy and may never be able to walk on his own, but that hasn’t stopped him from trying.

“Galen has worked his tail off the past five years and has made tremendous strides. He wants to walk by himself and he’s never stopped trying,” Getz said.

Getz’s journey will bring him through Douglas County and into Carson City today before he continues east on Highway 50 toward his final destination, Boulder, Colo.

Skip was diagnosed with a lemon-sized brain tumor last year that cost him his career and will cost him millions in future medical bills. Because he is healthy enough to work but can’t get insurance because of the now pre-existing conditions, the medical costs will continue to mount.

Getz is hoping to raise money through donations to help offset the future medical costs for him and his son as well as provide capital for a small business that he hopes will make him self-sufficient.

Along the way, Getz is camping along the road or at campgrounds that will waive their fees.

“Last night (Tuesday) we slept along a rushing creek off of Highway 88 and we’ve stayed in campgrounds. I think it will get easier along Highway 50 because it’s more isolated and I’ve seen people sleep along the side of the road,” Getz said. ‘Basically we are just kind of winging it.”

While Getz has battled fatigue, wind burn and the disruption of his schedule by weather, he said the hardest part of his journey was the first 1,285 steps during which he helped his son walk with him.

“That first short section took us nearly an hour, a distance most folks can cover in minutes, but it shows just how tough my son really is and how much he wants to thrive and succeed,” Getz said. “That was unbelievably important. To have him do that was a symbol of why I’m doing this.”

It was the longest Galen had ever walked at one time.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at or 881-1217.