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Asbury Park Press, June 29, 2005

GASpangler

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Prof makes canine friend during contest

By Terry Gauthier Muessig
Staff Writer

Most people would presume a 200-mile pilgrimage from Leon to Santiago, Spain, and the Asbury Park Press pet photo contest's winner would have nothing in common. That is, unless you knew Carl Calendar, an English professor at Brookdale Community College in the Lincroft section of Middletown.

"I don't mind being upstaged by a dog," Calendar, 61, of Tinton Falls said. Calendar is an animal lover by nature. He also dubbed himself campaign manager for Elroy, a Redbone Coonhound, when the newspaper held its photo contest in April. Kelly Parr, 41, of Howell, who owns the dog, is a learning assistant at the college.

"Carl hung posters around the school, "vote for Elroy,' " she said. "Carl said, "He (Elroy) can't lose to the iguana (another pet who was in the contest).' "

Calendar said he enjoyed promoting Elroy's campaign. However, his dream of walking the camino (road) that men such as St. Francis and Pope John II had walked thousands of years ago was just weeks away.

About three weeks after Elroy took the top prize of $500, Calendar left for Europe on his pilgrimage.

"There were a lot of people my age and older walking just to prove they can do it," he said."

As Calendar's colleagues heard about his pilgrimage, it was decided that his trek would be a fund-raising event for the Marge Ryan Scholarship Fund to help the school's students who want to study abroad.

"I'm amazed over the amount we raised, about $2,000," he said.

The pilgrimage took 18 days. While trekking the countryside, he carried an 18-pound backpack filled with two sets of clothing, a poncho, a sleeping bag, and the bare essentials, he said.

"I did it. A lot of people don't make it," he said.

He began training for his walks up and down the mountains by walking at Hartshorne Woods and trained for the flatlands at Thompson Park, both in Middletown.

"The toughest day was climbing the second mountain, El Acebo," he said. The climb was about 3,500 feet straight up.

His most joyous day was the walk into Santiago, he said. During the journey, he stayed at the "pilgrim hostels" along the way, he said. The cost is about $6 or $7, and the people are very accommodating to pilgrims, he said.

His e-mail contact at home was Parr. Each chance Calendar got to write home, he would send her an e-mail of his journey. In turn, Parr sent his letter via e-mail to all the supporters of his trip.

Calendar said about 100,000 people take the pilgrimage each year during June and July.

When he was asked if he would ever do the walk again, he said "absolutely."

Upon his return, Parr, who helped collect the money for the scholarship, wanted to include Elroy in the check presentation as a thank you to Calendar for helping her and Elroy win the pet contest. Parr arranged for Elroy to be at the college to present Calendar with the check for the scholarship fund.

For more information about the student's international programs, call (732) 224-2174
 
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