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Kaneland Connection: The BIG WALK

Da Capo Music Studio endeavor aims to raise funds for Kaneland Harter Middle School jazz band

ELBURN – Bob Cates said he never has been camping in his life, except when he was in the Cub Scouts, and “that doesn’t count.”

Cates, 45, is about to get plenty of experience in roughing it. Cates will be joining a group, including Chris Goddard, Ben Westfall, Garrett Patterson and David Mannia, that will be participating in something called The BIG WALK.

The men will walk from a lighthouse on the shores of Lake Michigan to the coast of Lake Superior, a 70-mile hike to raise funds for the Kaneland Harter Middle School jazz band. The walk will begin June 29, and will last five days. They will hike through Hiawatha National Forest, stopping to camp at night. So far, Westfall said, the group has collected about $100, but he said the hope is to collect at least $1,000.

Denise Blaszynski, president of the Kaneland Performing Arts Boosters, said in a news release that the money raised can help the band participate in workshops or purchase a wider range of music.

Those looking to follow the effort on Facebook can visit Donations can be mailed to Kaneland Performing Arts Boosters, PO Box 611, Elburn, IL 60019.

Westfall, 31, co-owner of Da Capo Music Studio in Elburn, conceived the idea. The group will be joined by Kristin Paxinos, co-owner of Da Capo. Paxinos will drive a support vehicle. Westfall wanted to help the Harter jazz band after one of his guitar students, Cates’ daughter, Bailey, made the Harter band. Westfall has had other ambitious endeavors, such as cross-country bike trips. He said the walk will be an equally difficult task.

“It demands your respect,” Westfall said.

All involved in the effort are connected through Da Capo.

Cates also has taken lessons, as well as his daughter. Goddard, 45, and Mannia, 37, are fathers of students at Da Capo. Patterson, 18, is a Kaneland High School graduate and a Da Capo student.

On Sunday, Westfall and Goddard met at Cates’ Elburn home to prepare for what might be their final 15-mile practice walk. Those involved have been going on long walks for months – Cates said the first walk took place in a blizzard – and they said that walking 15 miles in a day isn’t as easy as some might think.

“Fifteen miles doesn’t seem like a lot,” Cates said. “But once you get past 10 miles, you start to feel it.”

Westfall said a weeklong walk through the wilderness will be difficult. He compared it to his cross-country bike trips, saying this task will be no easier.

“I think this is going to be every bit as challenging as those trips were,” he said. “It’s just not as long.”

• Al Lagattolla is the news editor of the Kane County Chronicle. Write to him at

Know more

Those looking to follow the effort on Facebook can visit Donations can be mailed to Kaneland Performing Arts Boosters, PO Box 611, Elburn, IL 60019.

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