SIDNEY, NE — New England native Michael Wilson found himself in the Nebraska Panhandle, but how did he get here?
Wilson’s brief presence in the City of Sidney is one stop of many on his 3,200 mile run across America to raise money for childhood cancer.
The 28-year-old began his journey in Santa Monica, California, on April 7 and plans to arrive in his hometown of Newburyport, Massachusetts.
Most people wouldn’t choose to run across America, especially during the hottest time of the year. However, Wilson knew it was something he wanted to accomplish when he began distance running 10 years ago. He said “Forrest Gump,” his all-time favorite movie, inspired the idea.
But it takes more than a passion for running to travel across the United States by foot. Wilson is making this journey to raise $35,000 for two nonprofit organizations: Lucy’s Love Bus and the MaxLove Project. Both work to improve the quality of life of children with cancer and life-threatening illnesses through practices like music therapy, meditation and therapeutic horseback riding--all examples of therapy that aren’t covered under health insurance.
Wilson was inspired to give back to these organizations after his classmate Lucy died at 11 years old from leukemia. She founded Lucy’s Love Bus to help other sick children through the pain and anxieties of treatment. “Over the years, I asked myself, ‘How can I take what I love to do and help them?’” Wilson said.
Wilson has had to overcome obstacles before he even started his journey across America. All of his initial supplies were destroyed in a car accident, which pushed his start date back from April 1. Not to mention the difficulties during his journey like flat tires on his supply stoller and having to reroute because of intense heat.
But through it all, Wilson has persevered with the support of his community and even strangers. Numerous times people have pulled over to give him water, food and allowed him to stay in their home, Wilson explained.
“There’s no way I could do this without the help and support from other people,” he said. “Something like this really does take a village to get it done.”
Although Wilson has enjoyed traveling by foot, he’s excited to get back to his job as a personal trainer and continue with school to become a physical therapy assistant.
His goal is to reach the East Coast by mid-July while sharing his passion for helping others one step at a time.
Donate and follow Micheal Wilson’s journey here.
Learn more about Lucy’s Love Bus here.
Learn more about the MaxLove Project here.