Terina Liberty Ballard, a high school sophomore at Snow Canyon High School, will soon leave for St. Augustine, Fla., to begin training for a walk she and her father, Joseph Almond, hope will get Ross Perot on the presidential ballot.
Ballard was recently reunited with her father, whom she hadn't seen since she was 6 months old. The two will become reacquainted during the 1,300-mile Perot/Powell '96 Petition Walk."It was kind of weird meeting my father after all this time," said Ballard, whose parents divorced when she was young. "I'm not a demonstrative type, and when he asked me if I wanted to walk with him, I said, `Yeah, I guess so.' But even when my grandfather gave me a car, all I said was, `cool, a car.' "
An hour before sunrise in St. Augustine on July 4, Ballard, 17, and Almond, 42, will get a sendoff from residents there. Speeches, bands and a "Godspeed" ceremony will kick off their 58-day walk to the headquarters of the Reform Party in Dallas.
They will be greeted by Perot in Dallas and will hand him a petition bearing at least 15,000 signatures asking Perot to place his name on the Reform Party ballot as a presidential candidate, said Almond. The petition reads: "Please carefully consider the will of the people of the United States and enter the race for president of the United States with Colin Powell as vice president."
July 4 was chosen for two reasons, Almond said. "One is because it is Independence Day and we are declaring freedom for the American people from an inhibiting bureaucracy, and second, it's Terina's birthday."
"Last year on my birthday, I was in Alaska fishing and caught a 75-pound salmon, " Ballard said. "I had only been fishing 10 minutes. My birthday, July 4, is a very lucky day for me. I want it to be lucky for me and my dad."
Ballard said as the date approaches, she is becoming more excited and looking forward to the walk.
Asked why he feels Powell would consent to become a running mate with Perot, Almond replied, "Perot and Powell are dear friends. Even though Colin Powell declined a previous overture for placement on the Republican ticket, Powell has not said he would not run on a Perot/-Powell ticket. I think he will consent when everything is in place."
Convinced that this grass-roots movement will be the catalyst to propel Perot/Powell and the Reform Party into the present political arena, Almond is working hard to finalize all the plans for the petition walk to Dallas.
"We have had wonderful media response to this walk that is being planned by me and my daughter," he said. "When there is not a great deal of financial support, we have to come up with walks and other creative ways to obtain publicity for our cause."
Almond said the two of them are scheduled for numerous media interviews as soon as Ballard is in Florida. The father/daughter twosome will be together May 25, when Almond and his wife arrive in Utah to provide Ballard with training details. She will be flown to Florida in early June to begin additional training.
"We will be taking 79,000 steps per day walking toward our goal of putting Ross Perot and Colin Powell in the White House," Almond said. They will walk 22.5 miles per day, arriving in Dallas on Aug. 30.
Along the way, 345 homes have offered their hospitality for the two to come in, rest, shower and obtain petition signatures.
Almond said that in addition to the send-off in St. Augustine, a big rally is being planned for them in Jacksonville, Fla.