Crawling in Philly to step up efforts for clearing minefields in war zones

 Gabe Arnold is raising money for Halo Trust, which works to clear landmines from war-torn areas around the globe. He'll spend Saturday morning crawling between the Philadelphia Museum of Art and City Hall to generate awareness for the cause. (Aaron Moselle/WHYY)

Gabe Arnold is raising money for Halo Trust, which works to clear landmines from war-torn areas around the globe. He'll spend Saturday morning crawling between the Philadelphia Museum of Art and City Hall to generate awareness for the cause. (Aaron Moselle/WHYY)

Stand outside the Philadelphia Art Museum on Saturday morning and you’ll easily spot Gabe Arnold. He’ll be the one crawling down the cascading steps.

“If you can picture the way a bear walks or the way a cat walks, that’s what I’m going to be doing,” said Arnold.

Starting a 9 a.m., Arnold, a personal trainer, will embark on a slow, three-mile voyage to City Hall and back to raise money for Halo Trust. The nonpolitical, nonprofit helps clear forgotten minefields from former war zones including Afghanistan and Vietnam.

The South Jersey native won’t stand up until he finishes the loop.

The effort, expected to take at least four hours, isn’t about anti-war activism. Arnold said he simply wants to help people live as peacefully as possible.

“Just that idea that you’re living in fear in your own home. And it’s a fear not of a person or an ideology or something,” he said. “It’s an inanimate object that does not care who you are, what you’ve done, how good of a person you’ve been.

“You step on it, it blows up, you lose an arm, you lose a leg, you lose your life,” he said.

Six years ago, Arnold learned about a fellow practitioner of parkour — a training discipline rooted in military obstacle course movements — who crawled three and a half miles to raise money for an African charity.

He was inspired and has thought about doing a charity crawl of his own ever since.

For Arnold, there’s a simple parallel between crawling and his cause.

“As someone who has the blessing and the advantage of living in a country that doesn’t have to worry about mines for the most part, the least I could do is crawl for one day so that someone else might be able to keep walking for the rest of their life,” he said.

Arnold’s goal is to raise $3,375, the amount, according to Halo Trust, it takes to cover for a month’s worth of work in a given war zone.

A fundraising page on Crowdrise.com is already up and running. As of Friday, the campaign had garnered just under $700.

Arnold’s parents will be walking alongside their son with donation buckets on Saturday.

With forecasts calling for temperatures in the low-90s, Arnold said there’s no doubt the task will be a grind. His attitude towards training, however, may make it all a bit easier to tackle.

“A motto that I like when I go out training is to be strong to be useful,” he said. “It’s not enough just to go in and lift weights. You want to train with a purpose in mind.”

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