It's been nearly five months since my last blog entry and a lot has happened. Lately I've been thinking about the past, present, and future. While crossing the continent I've met some great people, visited wonderful cities, and seen some incredible landscapes. A few places that come to mind are Fruita, CO, Natchez, MS, Capitol Reef National Park in Utah, and Grayton Beach in Florida. What made all these place special though were the people. My friend Amy Dancer likes to refer to me as, "city boy", and honestly, I am. None of the places I mentioned resemble my hometown of Los Angeles at all. Oddly enough I feel at home in those places and as previously stated, it's because of the people. I do miss the day to day chaos of city living, but there's something to be said for a slower paced lifestyle. When a person can stop or slow down for a minute to take in their surroundings it's easier to appreciate what's there. My travels through the south have been some of the most interesting so far. Besides Natchez, MS another place that sticks in my mind is Greenville, MS. It was there that I met a stranger who invited me to stay at a church down the road from where he saw me. The church also happened to have a prison outreach program. The place is called Grace Tabernacle Christian Church and there I met some incredible people. I ended up spending a week with men who had fallen on hard times and served time in prison. I spent quite a bit of time talking with one man who had been a fugitive on the run during the 70s. He had a story to tell. His capture resulted in a shootout that cost him the use of his legs. Despite being former convicts none of the men I met at GTCC seemed violent, hostile, or threatening. I think they appreciated the fact that a human being saw them not as someone who spent time in the prison system and judged them, but as person. Some of the men in the program have a steady job but most rely on public assistance. Perhaps what struck me as special about these men is that although they were down on their luck and had little or nothing they still found it in their hearts to support me in my cause. This would also be the first time anyone had joined me on my walk. The day I left, Pastor Darnell Williams and the men of GTCC walked me to the city limits. Those are just some of the kind of people I would meet on the road.
Now that I'm getting down to the last couple thousand miles of my walk I'm trying to think of ways to increase awareness about what I'm doing and to try and get more donations for St.Jude Children's Research Hospital. Things like social media are great tools for raising awareness, however those tools only work when they are used correctly. Ultimately it comes down to people believing in the cause. I could have gone to big businesses and corporations to ask for donations, but I wanted to take grassroots approach to fundraising. There are people who believe that humanity doesn't exist anymore, however, my travels and my encounters with people have proved otherwise. I've told people time and time again that there are 311,000,000 people in the United States alone and if I could just 1,000,000 people to give a dollar I will have met or exceeded my goal of raising $1,000,000 for St.Jude Children's Research Hospital. Sounds easy enough right. That's less than one percent of the American population. Thus far donations are few and far between. It's easy to understand that people have a difficult time parting with their hard earned money, especially when they aren't getting anything tangible in return. Then I see things like people raising $2,000,000 on Kickstarter to get a Veronica Mars movie made or donating $1,000,000 to actor Zach Braff's crowdfunding campaign to get the sequel to his Garden State movie made. So, it's a challenge doing fundraising for a cause like mine and although the results are mildly disappointing I'm no where near ready to give up. If nothing else walking across America to raise money for St.Jude Children's Research Hospital has shown me what I can endure physically, psychologically, and what I'm prepared to sacrifice. A question I get asked a lot is, why St.Jude Children's Research Hospital? I've known about St.Jude for a long time now and when I started looking at children's hospitals and organizations to volunteer at I discovered that there weren't any volunteer opportunities where I lived so I chose to volunteer at Starlight Children's Foundation because I could get involved with the children and their families. Over time there would be children I wouldn't see anymore because their health deteriorated or their illness got the better of them. As with most things I tend to say to myself, can I do more. So, I started fundraising in addition to volunteering and it still didn't feel like it was enough. In the winter of 2011 I started trying to come up with good ideas for a fundraiser. The idea to walk across America and raise money popped into my head and for the next few months I talked about it with friends who thought I was crazy. I couldn't set out on my mission until May 2012 because I had some film scoring projects that wouldn't be done until April. At that point I looked at what I had going on, saw the opportunity, spent a few minutes thinking about it, and ultimately decided to take off. Which I guess still brings up the question of why. Seeing young people miss the opportunity to grow up and fulfill their dreams because of a catastrophic illness is heartbreaking and if something can be done to prevent it I want to do all I can.
As far as my future plans are concerned, well… I'm not one to make plans, but it's something I have to seriously consider if I don't want to be homeless on the east coast. I am giving serious thought to making LA and not L.A. my new home. During college I had planned on moving to New Orleans, LA because I wanted to work for Trent Reznor of the band Nine Inch Nails. Well, a woman derailed that plan. I'm terrible about following my own advice. It wasn't a decision I regret. It paid off in the long run. There are a few things that make me to want to return to the south. Of the course the people are great, but there are other things too. Having been on the road for so long I haven't been able to visit the beach. Once I reached southern Mississippi and saw the Gulf Of Mexico the wheels starting turning and thought to myself, I could make this home. I'm the kind of person that enjoys trying new things and I started to see the possibilities. With being in New Orleans I'm closer to the St.Jude hospital and I want to be able to volunteer there a few times a year. In addition to that I'll spend time volunteering with children and other causes that are important to me. Something I look forward to is Relay For Life. I also want to raise money for organizations that provide diabetic alert dogs to children and their families. I also think it would be great to start a foundation for underprivileged children who want to get involved with music. I've also have a great group of friends now in the south. I see an opportunity to create a great new life for myself. I don't think it will be one that's much different from my Los Angeles, CA life, but I welcome any change as long as it's good or at least has a life lesson attached to it. If nothing else I can always return to Los Angeles or go on another epic adventure. One can never knows with me.