MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Tom Warth, founder of “Books for Africa,” turned 80 on Friday.

He celebrated his eighth decade right after completing a 20-mile fundraising walk in the heat and humidity of Africa.

The walk that started on Wednesday and ended Thursday went from one side of the island of Zanzibar to the other.

Warth, who lives in Marine on St. Croix, talked with NewsRadio 830 WCCO via telephone Saturday morning from Zanzibar.

“I’m feeling the pain from the walk, I can tell you,” Warth said.

The island is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, off Africa’s southeast coast.

“I did the walk when I was in still in my 70’s,” Warth said. “I’m pretty beat. It was ten miles a day in pretty fearsome heat and humidity. But I made it. I walked all the way.”

Warth shook off the pain and fatigue for Saturday’s ceremonial donation of the program’s two-millionth book to Tanzania. The ceremony is taking place on the mainland African continent at the home of the nation’s former first lady, Anna Mkapa.

She joined Warth on the walk, along with about 20 other people from Minnesota who gathered donations for the event. The fundraiser will pay for shipping more books to Africa.

Warth handed Mkapa Tanzania’s ceremonial book number 2,000,000, a manuscript on Socrates, which was donated by the Minneapolis school board after years of use at Southwest High School.

“It’s been borrowed, and recycled,” Warth said, reading off the names of six Southwest students who checked out the book over the years that are inscribed inside its cover. “They gave it to us, along with thousands of other books.”

Warth founded Books for Africa in 1988. The program donates millions of used books to many African nations. That includes donated digital material, but Warth says there is something special about holding a book

“I think a child that’s never held a real book is entitled to one,” he said.

Click here to visit Books for Africa’s website.

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