Kapaun walk participation swells

Staff writer

More than 150 people made the pilgrimage from Wichita to Pilsen. They started walking on Friday and ended the trek at about 1 p.m. on Sunday at St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church.

This year was the fifth annual Emil Kapaun pilgrimage. Scott Grim of Wichita has participated in the walk for four years.

Eric Weldon, priest at St. Margaret Mary of Wichita, organized the first walk with three other colleagues. The crowd has grown every year. Even more people were interested because of Kapaun’s canonization cause and his reception of the Medal of Honor, which Kapaun’s family took to Pilsen on Sunday.

“It’s the power of the person,” Weldon said. “It’s the power of the faith of the people.”

Grim said the reason he walked was to simply honor Kapaun.

“A lot of people pray for somebody,” he said.

Janko Kalan, 10, of Pittsburg, was wearing a ‘Team Payton’ T-shirt. He was walking, in part, to support a classmate in her battle against cancer.

Another Pittsburg resident was walking out of gratitude.

“Father Kapaun saved my life,” Nick Dellasega said.

Dellasega was running a 5K on Mother’s Day weekend in 2011 in Pittsburg. He had completed about three miles, about 100 meters from the finish line, when he collapsed. Without warning — he said he was feeling fine during the run and was in shape for the race — Dellasega suffered cardiac arrest. He was down on the ground for 10 minutes before he was taken to a hospital.

Dellasega’s uncle, Mark, had heart trouble a few months earlier. At the time, family members prayed to Kapaun for assistance. Dellesega said his cousin, Jonah, started praying to Kapaun when he was in the hospital.

With help from medical science, Dellasega believes Kapaun intervened to save his life. He has an implanted defibrillator to prevent another cardiac arrest situation.

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