Diana Nyad Key West plaque unveiling
  • Diana Nyad (right) watches as Key West officials and supporters (from left) Jimmy Weekley, Michael Shields, Tony Yaniz and Teri Johnston unveil a bronze plaque commemorating her 2013 Cuba-to-Key-West swim. The plaque is now installed at Smathers Beach where Diana came ashore, triumphantly completing the epic swim. (Photo by Andy Newman, Florida Keys News Bureau)

     

  • By: Diana Nyad
  • March 20, 2019

(Editor’s Note: This week, Keys Voices shares an inspirational invitation to readers from legendary endurance athlete Diana Nyad, who in September 2013 became the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West without a shark cage.)

Diana Nyad Bonnie Stoll EverWalk

Diana (right) and Bonnie invite everyone to join them on their EverWalk treks in Key West.

April is once again Key West time for me and my Cuba Swim expedition leader Bonnie Stoll. Yes, Bonnie and I are terribly excited to spend the first week of April, Monday through Friday, April 1-5, in our favorite town.

We’re bringing 40 of our EverWalk Nation members, to both walk 10 miles every morning and to volunteer for the good work of the Lower Keys chapter of Habitat for Humanity each afternoon.

We very much want you local Conchs and you visitors to paradise to come walk with us. We’ll start out every morning at 9 a.m. from the Southernmost Point. And we’ll finish around noon and offer lunch at our Truman Annex “EverWalk Central” home.

Register for any day, or multiple days, here.

You may not have the time or the inclination to go the full 10 miles with us. Do as many miles as you wish, but you’re welcome to join us for lunch at noon if you’re registered.

Each morning’s different 10-mile tour passes by, of course, key island sites — and Bonnie and I also will take you to many of the training locations we frequented during our four years of prepping for the Cuba Swim. We’ll stop for a few minutes to share a few of our stories.

"Good Morning America's Robin Roberts, Diana Nyad Key West

“Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts (left) joined Diana during the 2018 EverWalk in Key West. (Photo by Steve Panariello, Florida Keys News Bureau)

Then, each afternoon, our EverWalk group will motor up the Keys to work for Habitat for Humanity. Last April we found our time helping to rebuild two homes in Big Pine Key immensely gratifying. So our little work force returns this year to lend a hand again.

For our love of Key West, Bonnie and I have committed to coming back every year, for both our walks and our time with Habitat.

We will never be able to give back enough to the warm, wonderful citizens of the Florida Keys for the kindness they extended to us during our training time here.

To wit, Jimmy Weekly of Fausto’s has stepped up yet again and is hosting both our welcome barbecue and our daily lunches this year.

And the honorable Teri Johnston, our new mayor, is coming through with all kinds of logistical help. Thank you, Jimmy and Mayor Johnston!

Also, while we’re in town for EverWalk, I’ll be performing my one-woman stage show “The Courage to Fail,” on Wednesday, April 3. Join me at The Studios of Key West’s first-class theater.

I so look forward to seeing you all there! It promises to be an evening of both laughs and inspiration.

As for EverWalk, the concept actually sprang to mind on the heels of the Cuba Swim. Bonnie and I and the entire Xtreme Dream Team, many from Key West, experienced an epic adventure as we tried that dangerous crossing four times before we finally made it all the way. I stumbled up onto Smathers Beach on Sept. 2, 2013, after 110.86 miles — and 52 hours and 54 minutes of grueling swimming.

Diana Nyad Key West

Diana Nyad blows a bugle at the dedication of an exhibit showcasing her 2013 swim at Key West’s Custom House Museum. (Photo by Carol Tedesco, Florida Keys News Bureau)

I used to talk about swimming the curvature of this blue jewel of a planet of ours. The long hours were filled with thoughts of how to live life large, how to become everything one’s potential can fulfill.

Well, when that dream was at long last realized, Bonnie and I started brainstorming. How could we share that journey in the great outdoors, conjuring who you want to be, what you want to do?

Taking thousands of people to stroke the surface of the sea would have been ideal, but not practical. But the masses can walk.

So EverWalk was born and now we lead people down the road, over the curvature of the earth, gazing up at the blue sky, out at the horizon — all of us envisioning just what we will do with our precious time.

Please join EverWalk Nation and pledge to walk three times a week, no matter where you are, at EverWalk.com. And if you’re in Key West that first week of April, I surely would love to walk a mile or two with you.

See you on the road … at the theater … hope to see you soon. Onward!     — Diana

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