1000 Mile Journey: A Tale of Friendship

"When you grow up in a small town you just always know people. You don't remember meeting them because you've known them for so long and that's how long I've known Johnathan," says Winston Hall. 

Winston Hall and Jonathan Avitia grew up in Gainesville, Texas doing the typical things any small town kids do, but during the summer of 2001, their friendship grew into a brotherhood at Wind River Ranch in Estes Park, Colorado.

"It had never occurred to me to do something like that so I went, and that kind of opened the door for a lot of adventures in my life," says Winston. 

Their adventures reached from Colorado, to Nashville, Mexico and then Shreveport, Louisiana where they ended up working in the movie business. 

"The friendship Jonathan and I had, we really challenged each other to go to new heights and do new things and our friendship was really an adventure. So all throughout our 20s we lived the mantra of living life to it's fullest," Winston says.

But October 2011, everything changed when Jonathan was diagnosed with an cancer. A year later Jonathan told Winston, if he didn't survive, he would give him his saddle and black hat.

"When he left me his saddle I didn't want it to be something I stuck in the garage and said thank you. I wanted it to be something meaningful, and then I thought about a way to honor Jonathan and I wanted to do something as profound as our friendship and he told me if he didn't survive that I would get that saddle. I told him that I would do this so he knew how much I valued his friendship," Winston says. 

Five months later, Jonathan passed away. 

"When he passed away it kind of got put on the back burner, and I saw that saddle everyday and I knew ultimately I knew I had to do what I had to do," says Winston.

Winston decided to go on an adventure that would honor his promise and Jonathan's memory. A 1000 mile journey starting on Jonathan's birthday from the Avitia Ranch in Coryell County, Texas to Wind River Ranch in Estes Park, Colorado on an American Mustang named Durango Bobwire.

"I hope when people see what we're doing they think about their friends in their lives and that those friends can alter your destiny for better or for worse. I hope that people are grateful for their friends that surround them and the influence they have on their life, and how they can empower you and make you do things that you never thought you would do," Winston says. 

The journey has also inspired Winston's girlfriend, Donna Chance.

"I believe in this so much. When he first told me about it, I didn't hesitate because I thought it was such a special way to honor his friendship and that he would promise Jonathan that he would do this with his saddle and I think it's this grand gesture," explains Donna. 

"She's my rock and my other half, and there's no way I could do this without her," says Winston. 

The 1000 mile journey was inspired by an old friendship, but has also sparked new ones along the way.

"We have so many new friends that we can come back and visit," Winston says.

"That was the sign of things to come because so many people have offered us shelter. We figure if we can make it 500 miles we can make it all the way and we have confidence that we're going to make it to Wind River," says Donna. 

"This trip is thought with meaning and symbolism, because this is the way that Jonathan and I would go to Wind River Ranch. I think that's a way to honor Jonathan for the rest of my life. If I ever get complacent with life and I'm sitting still say, what can I do with my time here to exploit this existence, what can I do to exploit the gift of life," Winston says. 

For more information on the journey, visit Journey for Jonathan.

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