- Doug Padilla, Chicago White Sox beat reporter
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A group of five men and a goat named "Wrigley" just completed a nearly 100-day walk from the Chicago Cubs' spring training complex in Mesa, Ariz., all the way to the ballpark on Clark and Addison with the main goal of raising money for cancer research.
They had raised $20,000 before the Cubs added to that total Tuesday with a $1,764 check, equal to one dollar for every mile walked. The Cubs also had made an earlier donation of $2,600.
On their route, the group happened to be in St. Louis a couple of weeks ago. They found a caretaker for their goat in the area of Busch Stadium and went to watch the Cubs play the Cardinals. The Cubs won, and they won again Tuesday.
The Cubs wouldn't win again until Monday, the day the group completed its 2,000-mile walk by arriving in Chicago. And yes, the five walkers were at Wrigley Field on Monday while the goat was three blocks away in the hands of a friend.
Philip Aldrich, Matt Gregory, P.J. Fisher, Blake Farrell and Cal Townsend were honored on the field before Tuesday's game and took in the contest against the Padres from the owner's seats near the Cubs' on-deck circle. Once again, the goat, a Nigerian pygmy that was purchased on Craigslist.com for a mere $60, was not allowed inside the grounds.
Instead, the members of the group, that have dubbed their cause "Crack the Curse," held an oversized photo of their goat, while receiving their oversized check for their charity.
The journey wasn't easy except for Wrigley, who rode most of the way in what was essentially a jogging stroller for kids. The group had their doubts early on about the cross-country walk but forged ahead.
"We battled foot issues early on, blisters," Aldrich said. "The feet weren't accustomed to the pack weight. It was pretty overwhelming. The blisters on the feet were huge. Steps were excruciatingly painful. But the five of us we really pushed each other. New Mexico was the hardest part. We had to walk at night sometimes because the sun was too much. But once we made it to Texas we knew we were going to finish."
All the money raised is headed to the Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, an organization the group credits for extending the life of Gregory's mother for 20 years after she was first diagnosed with leukemia. The center also helped Aldrich with a bone marrow match for his sister. More information on the group is available at crackthecurse.com.
The five members of the group are expected back to their seasonal job at an Alaska national park in June. "Wrigley" will go to the Michigan farm of Townsend's mother where other goats are being raised.
For now, the group will spend the next week in Chicago and they fly home. As expected, they are done with walking, but there are no regrets.
"(The Cubs) have been very supportive and they keep track of us," Aldrich said. "Every day we send them an update of what we did. We send a photo. They have been behind us. We're doing it for a good cause."