Saturday, January 24, 2015

Most frequently asked questions.

These are some of the most popular questions I would get from people during my walk across America.

In no particular order.

Q: Where do you sleep?
A: Anywhere I could. Over he course of the seventeen months I spent on the road a majority of it was spent camping outdoors. Often times I had to be stealthy and pitch my tent in places where I could not easily be seen. A couple of times I pitched my tent in someone's front yard without them knowing. When I could find a place where I could legally camp it was usually a campground or public lands. Occasionally I would find a host on Couchsurfing or AirBnb. Sometimes people would get me hotel room in their town.

Q: How far do you walk a day?
A: At first I walking about 10-15 miles a day. Then that increased to 20 in Nevada; 30 in Utah; then 40 after I got over the Rocky Mountains. There were a few 50 plus mile days and a 63 mile day. On those days I slept very little or not at all.

Q: What was your route?
A: Originally I had planned to get on Highway 50 so that I could take that as far as I could before having to take another route to Portland, ME. Ultimately I ended up taking whichever route was safest to walk along. Early on I relied on the Google Map app for directions and then I learned the hardway that it was a bad idea. At one point I ended up in the desert and nearly passed out from heat exhaustion. My route took me across California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi (again), Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and finally Maine.

Q: Do you ever get scared?
A: I never at any point felt like I was in danger. Even though some of the roads/highways I walked along were dangerous I was always aware of surroundings. The only time I got scared was when  woman in Florida mistook me for actor Johnny Depp. I walked past a woman on the street who let out a high-pitch squeal and then shouted, "Johnny Depp!" It startled me and I jumped.

Q: What do you eat?
A: My diet was horrendous. At first I ate somewhat healthy. When I reached Rose Hill, KS and I weighed myself I discovered that I had lost nearly 50 pounds so my eating habits changed. I consumed a lot more sugar and carbohydrates. There was a lot of fake Pop Tarts from the dollar stores, pasta in a can, tortillas with peanut butter or fake Nutella, and bagels. My concern was that I would lose another 50 pounds by the time I reached Portland, ME. I also took advantage of the dollar menus at fast-food restaurants.

Q: Why would you do something like [walk across America]?
A: Getting involved with child-centered non-profit organizations is something that had become important to me over the years. As a child growing up my family was poor and we had to get by on government assistance. When I look back I remember how the generosity of strangers affected our lives. There were holidays were we would have had nothing if it weren't for those people. As an adult I've never been satisfied with just doing the minimum or just enough. I felt like I was in a unique position to do something that would have a positive impact on young people's lives and walking across America for a cause just happened to be that thing. At one point before I left to walk across the continent I remember reading a quote that said, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." Having seen all the problems that face people, whether it's disease, famine or poverty I couldn't just look the other way and ignore the issues. Far too many people look on and do nothing.

Q: Why St.Jude?
A: When I was looking for places to volunteer with children St.Jude was one of the organizations I wanted to give my time to. Unfortunately their hospital is in Memphis, TN and I'm in Los Angeles. So I volunteered my time with Starlight Children's Foundation – for a few years. When it came time to choose a cause for my walk across the country St.Jude was the first place that came to mind. The work they do is amazing. They have made a lot of medical advancements during the last 50 years. The survival rates for various cancers has increased immensely. St.Jude Children's Research Hospital is also very well known. If I had chose a lesser known organization people might have been reluctant to donate.

Q: What was your favorite place.
A: Interestingly enough it was the small towns where there was strong sense of community. The cities that immediately come to mind are Fruita, CO, Natchez, MS, and Steinhatchee, FL. There were other places I liked but those stood out.

Q: Why didn't you just ride a bike?
A: If I had ridden a bike I would have crossed the continent much quicker and I wouldn't have been able to raise as much money.

Friday, January 9, 2015

When a man sees his end...

"When a man sees his end…he wants to know there was some purpose to his life." In the spring of 2008 I remember having a similar thought. While sitting in my apartment watching television a commercial for charitable children's organization came on. I'm not sure what it was exactly but it struck a nerve. Then I started to think; when my time comes to die and I'm lying on my death bed I'll have to ask myself a very important question, was I someone who contributed to humanity or was everything I had done solely for my own benefit. For decades I thought only of myself. In my opinion I was every selfish. In the years leading up to the spring of 2008 I made a lot of changes in my personal life. One of the best decisions I made was to quit drinking. A majority of my twenties was spent inside a bottle. I was getting drunk on a daily basis. Nowadays I'll have a beer or two if I go out with friends or someone offers me a drink at their home, but that's it. The days of getting fall down drunk or blacking out are behind me. Immediately after seeing the commercial for the children's organization I started to look for place to volunteer with children. The first place I started looking was hospitals. I like to think I have a good sense of humor and I wanted to bring laughter and joy to children – to help them forget about their ailment. The hospitals I researched wanted a commitment of six months or longer. At the time I was thinking about moving to New York so I didn't want to make a commitment I couldn't fulfill. Then while reading an article about one of my favorite actresses there was mention of an organization called Starlight Children's Foundation. So I went to their website to read what their requirements for becoming a volunteer were and found that it fit me perfectly. I downloaded their forms, filled them out, and mailed them back along with a check to cover the fee for the background check they required. Within a few weeks I got an email asking for volunteers. Without hesitation I replied and offered my time. Fast forward four years later: I found myself wanting to do more. Volunteering wasn't enough; I wanted to do more. I wanted to raise thousands and thousands of dollars – like I had seen contestants do on the TV show The Celebrity Apprentice. In November of 2011 I had the idea to walk across the United States to raise money for another child centered non-profit organization – St.Jude Children's Research Hospital. I had already committed to composing the music for a short independent film that wasn't going to be finished until April of 2012. In April of 2012 when I was done with work I sold the remainder of my belongings so that I could fund my walk across the continent. The next few weeks were spent saying good bye to friends in northern California and Los Angeles. Then on May 7, 2012 I packed a few shirts and couple pairs of shorts into a back pack and set out to raise one million dollars for St.Jude Children's Research Hospital. Walking across America to raise money for charity is an experience that changed my life, forever. The lessons I learned are ones that will be with me forever. Life is a precious thing and death can take that away from us at any moment. When my times comes to leave this world and I ask myself, did I contribute anything to it I can die peacefully knowing that I tried.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Generosity Philosophy Podcast episode 60: Operation Cheer

This is an interview I did for the Generosity Philosophy Podcast show. The interview goes more in depth than any other interview I have done so check it out. 60: Operation Cheer

Download the free Podcast from iTunes. Enjoy. Generosity Philosophy Podcast. Episode 60: Operation Cheer (free)