Camel and owner walk to raise funds for cancer research

By Mike Taylor • Last Updated 9:45 am on Friday, August 22, 2014

GREENVILLE — When Frank DePue and his camel, Shalemar, set out on their (planned) 30-mile journey last Saturday, DePue had no way of knowing exactly how much money they would raise for cancer research.

Starting from the county line east of Carson City, man and camel plodded across the countryside toward Greenville, where Danish Fest was in full swing.

They stopped along the way at Vickeryville Corner where the two hitched a ride in DePue’s camel trailer to the outskirts of Greenville. From there, they hiked down M-57 to Youngman Road just west of K-Mart.

Animal Crackers Farm owner Frank DePue and his camel, Shalemar, humped across a fair chunk of Montcalm County during Danish Festival to raise money for cancer research. At the end of their walk, DePue had netted about $675. — Courtesy photo

Though they walked only about half the distance that DePue, 73, had originally planned, that was far enough.

In that distance, the two raised $675 for cancer research. On Wednesday, DePue turned the money over to Relay For Life American Cancer Society representative Katie Birgbauer.

DePue raised the money by hanging collection baskets from Shalemar’s saddle. As they walked, he solicited donations from onlookers who stopped along the road to say hello and wish him luck.

“When you walk past with a camel, people are going to stop you,” said Frank prior to the walk. “I’m hoping some of them will want to donate to the cancer society when they do.”

People did stop, and people did donate. In fact, although the walk is over, donations continue to roll in, according to DePue’s daughter, Monique Doolittle.

“My dad will continue to pass that on as he receives it,” Doolittle said.

On Wednesday, Frank DePue, right, handed over the funds he raised on a walk across the county with his camel, Shalemar. He is seen here presenting the funds to Katie Birgbauer, Relay For Life American Cancer Society representative, while his wife, Judith DePue, looks on. — Courtesy photo

Doolittle added that, though DePue’s spirit was strong — at least when the two embarked on the planned 30-mile hike — both hikers found their ambition to be slightly beyond their actual physical capacity.

“The camel kept slowing down,” Doolittle said. “As did my dad. They were both very tired. (Shalemar) just kept slowing down until he was nearly dragging her. Finally, he just decided to bring her to Danish Fest. They were both pretty whipped.”

The donations DePue received at Danish Fest more than made up for the sore feet (all six of them), however. Festival-goers stopped the pair repeatedly to ask questions and make donations.

Also, many residents along DePue’s route — which was reported on in a previous Daily News story — were waiting on their porches and made donations as the two passed.

DePue organized the walk as his way of expressing gratitude to the doctors and researchers who helped bring his wife, Judith’s, recent cancer into remission.

The two own Greenville-based traveling petting zoo Animal Crackers Farm.

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