Posted Online: Oct. 05, 2012, 10:00 am

Taking strides against hunger: Q-C man taking part in 29th CROP Walk

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By Leon Lagerstam,

More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Fred Siebenmann's Crop Walk hat is decorated with items from previous years.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Paul Colletti
Fred Siebenmann has been participating in the Crop Walk since 1983. Today, at age 84, Mr. Siebenmann is still an active Crop Walk participant, collecting pledges and taking part in the annual event that works to help end hunger. The 2012 Crop Walk takes place on Sunday, October 7, at Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport.
MOLINE — Sunday's annual CROP Hunger Walk helps a retired public health administrator put a different spin on the phrase "walk the walk, talk the talk."

Fred Siebenmann, who will turn 85 nine days later, said he has been participating in, and promoting, the CROP Walk since 1983, taking only one year off to recover from triple bypass heart surgery in 2009.

"I've been doing this for a long time and in different communities," Mr. Siebenmann said. "This year, I said I was going to raise the most money I've ever raised doing this, and I'm on track to do so."

So far, he's collected about $1,500 in pledges from neighbors and fellow Moline Union Congregational Church members to top past years' totals of $1,000. He's also asked family members for early birthday presents in the form of CROP Walk donations.

People can call him at (309) 736-1730 to make a pledge or even donate after this year's CROP Walk is in the books, he said.

Registration for this year's world hunger fundraiser will be at noon Sunday at Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport. A pre-event concert will be performed by Lojo Russo at 12:45 p.m. The walk will begin at 1 p.m.

Dan Steele, a Sherrard High School graduate and 2002 Winter Olympic Bronze medalist, will lead the walk as this year's honorary chairman. Mr. Steele won the bronze medal as the brakeman for U.S. Men's Bobsled Team. He led the walk 10 years ago and returns to the Quad-Cities to lead it again.

Mr. Siebenmann and Mr. Steele will be among 1,000 walkers hoping to raise $60,000 to help stop hunger and poverty. Last year, 800 walkers raised more than $58,000.

Crop Walks also will be held in 2,000 other communities across the country.

For information about the local walk, contact Anne Wachal of Churches United at (563) 332-5002 or" Ending hunger one step at a time," is this year's theme.

Mr. Siebenmann participated in his first CROP Walk in 1983 in Canton while working as Fulton County public health administrator. He previously was health administrator for the city of Moline, Rock Island County and Murphysboro.

"It's my public health background that got me into this in the first place," Mr. Siebenmann said of the CROP Walk. "Working for people's health and well-being is just something that's stuck with me as being important."

And the CROP Walk lets him help hungry people locally and abroad, he said.

"There's not enough food for everyone in the world," Mr. Siebenmann said. "There are people who are not eating, who are starving, and are dying, so this is an important thing to do. Even if you don't do the walk yourself, you can still help by supporting a runner. It's good to sacrifice a little for the good of many."

A quarter of the money raised during Sunday's walk will benefit local food pantries and other agencies, according to a news release.

Other proceeds will go toward global efforts, such as in Haiti, where earthquake recovery efforts continue. U.S. communities ravaged by floods and tornadoes also get CROP Walk proceeds.

Mr. Siebenmann said he is going to take more steps than other CROP Walkers on Sunday.

"I plan to walk 10 miles," he said.

The suggested course is three miles in Davenport. Then walkers can cross the Centennial Bridge into Rock Island, and walk another three miles for a total of six, if they like. Mr. Siebenmann will add another four miles to his walk along the Mississippi River.

"I normally get people to pledge $2 a mile, so it gives me $20 from each of them," he said. "Some of my supporters write checks for over $100."

Of course, those pledges don't cover all the leg work he puts in walking around his neighborhood getting donations.

"My neighbors know me as 'the CROP Walk Guy,'" Mr. Siebenmann said. "When they see me walking around getting pledges, they say 'Oh, it's that time of year again, you're back,' and I remind them, it's only once a year that they get my CROP Walk talk."

Then it's up to him to walk the walk.

Fred Siebenmann bio box

Address: Moline

Birth date: Oct. 7, 1927

Occupation: Retired public health administrator, including for the city of Moline, Rock Island County, Murphysboro and Canton; retired in 1994

Education: Moline High School, University of Illinois

Hometown: Moline

Military experience: U.S. Army, water purification, stationed in Fairbanks, Alaska

Favorite Scripture: "The Lord is my light and my salvation."

Hobbies: Camping