OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow far would you go to enact true social change? For Mimi Hughes, it was 1,770 miles down the Danube River. Her incredible journey as the first woman to swim the river is chronicled in her captivating memoir, Wider Than a Mile. Swimming twenty miles a day for eighty-nine days through nine European countries, perhaps the most amazing part of Hughes’s saga is that the swim becomes secondary in a tale full of love, loss, and the power of human kindness.

Hughes, a fifty-year-old married mother of four, embarks on this seemingly outrageous adventure to prove that a strong desire for change, expressed through major athletic accomplishments, can help motivate others to become more socially and environmentally aware. Joined only by her nineteen-year-old daughter on kayak, Hughes makes her way through foreign lands aided by countless strangers who were inspired to help beyond the team’s wildest expectations.

As thousands of people join them at the river to become part of the swim, Hughes and her daughter are given food and rest from people whose language they cannot speak, while countries still bitter over recent wars work together to ensure the women’s safety.

As Hughes faces floods, radiation-polluted waters, bureaucratic entanglement, fatigue, and countless other hardships, her perseverance inspires those around her even as those she meets inspire her. Ultimately, Wider Than a Mile is a story of hope, as well as an examination of how fear is the only thing keeping us from changing the world.

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