Teacher hospitalized while walking for school supplies

10:42 PM, May 16, 2010   |    comments
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  • Tenoroc High School
  • Tampa, Florida - A Polk County teacher was attempting to go the extra mile for his students until it landed him in the hospital.  Rafael Martin teaches children with learning disabilities at Tenoroc High School in Lakeland. He teaches American and World History as well as Algebra.

    Saturday morning he started to walk to raise money to buy his Algebra students calculators. His plan was to walk from  Lakeland to Tampa and he almost made it.

    Martin left his school in Lakeland at 6 a.m. Saturday and headed to Channelside in Tampa. 10 Connects caught up with Martin Saturday evening around 9:30 p.m. along Highway 60 in Tampa.

    But, by that time, his footsteps were heavy as he kicked up dust alongside the dark roadway. He said, "I may still have a little ways to go but it's within sight now."

    With every step Martin took, he imagined he was getting closer to his goal so his students would no longer have to do without the equipment they need to do their school work.

    Martin said, "I'm in agony but I can't let my kids down."

    Martin collected $975 in donations and another $1,400 in pledges before the walk. He says he'll be able to buy a lot more school supplies now because he raised more than he thought he would.

    Garrett Goodrich is a student at Tenoroc who said, "Well, all our calculators at school have been falling apart. Buttons are falling off. People are writing on them, so all around the whole board we need calculators and with all the money he's raising it can go around the whole school."

    Goodrich and another student, Austin Walker, shot video of Martin's walk, documenting his steps as he crossed busy roadways. 17.5 hours after he started he was still walking but started to feel nauseated around 11:30 p.m.

    About a mile and a half away from the finish line, paramedics were called in as Martin stumbled to a stretcher to be taken off to the hospital.

    On Sunday, 10 Connects checked in with Martin from his hospital bed at Tampa General Hospital. He patted the area along the right side of his knee, which he says is sore. His toes are black and blue and he suspects he will lose several toenails.

    He's receiving fluids intravenously but says it looks like he's going to be okay.

    Martin said, "I'd like to - when I recover - to finish those last few miles, so the people that pledged money know that I finished, that I completed the whole 50."

    Martin says he'd walk again to help his students but would invest more money in his footwear. He says he walked in tennis shoes from Walmart. He also says he'd make sure his route included as many sidewalks as possible.

    Martin says anyone interested in donating money for school supplies can still do so. You can either mail or drop off donations at Tenoroc High School at 4905 Saddle Creek Road. The zip code is 33801 in Lakeland, Florida. You can also call the school at (863) 614-9183.

    Tammie Fields, 10 Connects

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