Evansville Area CROP Hunger Walk
c/o Rev. Michael Erwin
Christ Church UCC
3601 Washington Avenue
Evansville, IN 47714
Saturday’s participants in the 43rd annual Evansville Area CROP Hunger Walk will be honoring the memory and the legacy of Al Spillman.
This year’s walk will begin and end at First Presbyterian Church at Second and Mulberry streets in downtown Evansville. Registration begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, and the walk starts at 10 a.m. Parking will be available at ECHO Healthcare at Third and Mulberry streets.
Walkers are encouraged to wear Halloween costumes and take part in a “best costumes” contest. That too is in honor of Spillman, who was known for the multi-colored clown wig he wore during many CROP Hunger Walks.
Spillman, who died exactly a week after last year’s CROP Walk, was the walk’s top fund raiser. His involvement with the CROP Hunger Walk spanned nearly four decades, raising money and bringing hunger awareness out of the shadows and into the light.
“I have no shame,” Spillman told a reporter for the Evansville Courier & Press before last year’s CROP Walk. “I’ll ask anyone for money – friends, fellow parishioners, my doctor – I’ve begged for money mercilessly.”
Although Spillman was unable to walk last year, the 42nd annual CROP Hunger Walk was his most successful. A total of $12,010.29 was raised for Church World Service, the Tri-State Food Bank, and the Evansville Emergency Food Pantry Consortium. Al more than doubled his previous record, collecting $4,639.75. Family and friends walking in Al’s honor raised another $1,163.36.
Spillman, who was 83 when he died on Nov. 7, 2015, was a graduate of Central High School and the University of Evansville (then Evansville College), where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in history. After serving in the Air Force, he completed his master’s degree in clinical psychology at the University of Missouri.
After being diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2003, he made a vow that if he survived the cancer, he would dedicate the rest of his life to hunger issues. He kept that vow for 12 years, even after his cancer returned last year.
Spillman, who in 2015 received Church World Service’s highest award, the Vanguard Award, for his dedication to hunger issues, will be remembered for his many ministries.
In addition to his private practice as a clinical psychologist, he worked at the Evansville Cancer Center, where he organized the “Man to Man” support group for men dealing with prostate cancer. An active member of St. John’s East United Church of Christ, he sang in the choir, taught Sunday School, and served both the church and the Evansville Tri-State Association of the UCC on various committees. He also volunteered in Deaconess Hospital’s Clinical Pastoral Education program and served meals at United Caring Services.
“I work now for the homeless, the hungry, and the hopeless,” said Spillman before his death last year.
The CROP Hunger Walk benefits Church World Service, the Tri-State Food Bank, and the Evansville Emergency Food Pantry Consortium.