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Man with MD walking the state stops in Ellsworth

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Ellsworth, 54011
Pierce County Herald
715-273-4335 customer support
Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

What Bradley Carlson has undergone for the last six years would be remarkable, even more impressive by the fact he suffers from Muscular Dystrophy (MD).

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Carlson has been on a mission to walk through every incorporated city, town, village in the State of Wisconsin and, at the same time, walk from one end of the state (the shores of Lake Michigan in Milwaukee) to the other (Mississippi River in La Crosse.)

Tuesday, Carlson was in Ellsworth to cross the "Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin" off his list. Also on that day were stops in Prescott, River Falls, Bay City and Maiden Rock.

Carlson, 39, was born with MD, but it's only started to affect him the last 13 years. The particular version he's suffering is called Becker's, which is similar to the Duchenne version suffered by the children profiled on Jerry Lewis' MDA Labor Day Telethon.

He explained MD is a disease that takes the strength out of one's muscles, which means they don't rebuild correctly and eventually wear away. That leads to problems with balance, frequent falling, walking difficulty (Carlson uses a cane to walk around) and calf pain, for example. For those reasons and for credibility sake to prove miles walked, Carlson is usually accompanied on his journey by a friend or family member. On this particular trip, Edna Miller, a friend from Dalton, joined him.

The idea for this plan started in June 2001 when Carlson went for a walk in Pardeeville (where he lived at the time). He now lives in Madison.

All of a sudden, a girl in a wheelchair pulled out in front of him and went on her walk in a cheerful and happy mood.

"It went off in my head that you have to find a way to do something with what you can," he said.

Combined with the fact Carlson is a nature lover, particularly of water to begin with, the idea of walking the state started to grow.

"I've spent twice as much time figuring out the planning than the walking," he said.

Initially, the plans called for only 300 miles. That changed quickly when he realized he would need to do multiple stops of some of the bigger cities in the state.

Now, the goal is walking 1,000 miles--he passed the 700th mile mark while he was in River Falls--and walking in all 595 incorporated cities--Ellsworth was 375 on the list.

"By walking in every city, I'd find interesting stuff that I'd never seen driving," he said.

As a result, when the last mile and city is crossed off the list, Carlson plans on writing a book about the anecdotes and stories he's collected, which is titled, "Wisconsin One Step At A Time," with the proceeds going to MDA.

He's predicting he'll complete his journey by July 2008. He has most of the state crossed off, but has a majority of the area counties --Pierce, St. Croix, Dunn, Polk and Pepin--left.

What is sure to be likely in the book is that he was nearly run over. Last year, while he was walking in Middleton as he was crossing a street, he didn't see a driver right away and vice versa. He believes he was three steps away from getting hit and his saving grace was checking his cell phone.

Besides the book, the popularity of this idea has grown to include a bowling tournament, web site and a possible scrapbook.

For more information, visit Bradley's web site at .

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Jason Schulte
Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 
(715) 243-7767 x243
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