Wellesley’s Greg Barlage and his family are true inspirations. And as Greg shares in his story below, he’s used all 500-plus streets in town to gain inspiration himself in recovering from acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
The investment manager estimates he walked about 200 miles between April and December, with a return to work in May slowing down his pace a bit. Greg describes himself as being old school—he bought a town street map, took pictures of sections on his cellphone, then would drive over to cover the town neighborhood by neighborhood. Who needs fancy tracking apps?
In trekking across town, Greg determined some streets just weren’t meant to be walked. Though he was treated to many finds, including a favorite house that was converted from a fire station.
Here’s Greg’s story in his own words:
At the age of 48, I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). AML is a serious disease, and the only way to survive it is a bone marrow transplant. My first transplant was in early 2017. There was not a good donor match for me on the bethematch.org database, so we did the next best thing, a haploidentical transplant with our 14-year-old son as the donor. After two relapses I had a second transplant in late 2020. This time a better match had joined the bethematch.org database and I’m happy to say that 13+ months post-transplant, I am doing well.
After 64 days in the hospital, I returned home in mid-November 2020. At that time, I could barely walk to the neighbor’s driveway and back (about a 50-yard round trip). I improved quickly and by the end of the year I could walk almost ½ mile at a time. On January 1, 2021 I decided that I would walk at least ½ mile per day, every day, in 2021. It was challenging at first, but as I got stronger the walking was easier.
In early April, while on a walk, I listened to a podcast about a gentleman who ran from Myrtle Beach, SC to the Golden Gate Bridge. After that adventure, he decided he needed to see his own city, and so he ran every street in San Francisco. That was my inspiration. I thought, if he can run 1,100+ miles of streets in San Francisco, I can walk every street in Wellesley!
On December 4, 2021 I finished the walking project in front of our friend’s house on Sheridan Circle. If you live in Wellesley, I walked by your front door this year! While I have walked at least ½ mile every day this year (as of the end of November I have logged over 790 miles on foot), I was slow to finish my Wellesley street walking project. Golf season got in the way, so many of my daily walks occurred at the Nehoiden Golf Club (approximately 2.5 miles per nine holes). Most of my Wellesley street walks were on my own, but my wife of 25+ years joined me on many occasions. I don’t think you noticed me walking by your house, unless you live on a road that isn’t traveled by people who live there.
What did I learn from walking every street in Wellesley? For one, and this is no surprise, we are very fortunate to live in such a beautiful town! Other observations: there are a lot more dirt/unpaved roads than I expected, our town has some unique neighborhoods and unique houses, many houses sit back from the road they are on, there are some very old houses (the oldest one I noticed was marked 1721), and I predict that the trend of knocking down houses and rebuilding them will continue for some time.
My wife and I moved to Wellesley in December 2005, from San Francisco, with our two boys who were 1 and 3 at the time. I’m looking forward to my next walking project: to walk every trail/path in Wellesley, a much shorter endeavor!
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Judy and Jim Barr says
Another alternative to your next series of walks is to return to the streets of Wellesley and do it again in another season. It’s amazing how different it look in summer vs winter vs spring vs fall.
As our alternative to travel during Covid, we have done THREE walks on the streets of Wellesley and have learned so much about Wellesley’s history, geology, and neighborhoods. What a beautiful town with everchanging landscapes.
Stephanie Hawkinson says
Wow! What an accomplishment. I applaud your determination to get stronger and your creative curiosity to see our town.
Jim Nicoletti says
You are an inspiration!
I, myself, was diagnosed with AML in July of this past year and have since undergone treatment. Am tentatively scheduled for a transplant in early February. Perhaps I’ll see you on Wellesley’s trails!
Best wishes for a healthy 2022.
Bob Brown says
Thanks for writing, Jim, and best wishes with the transplant, Bob & Deborah