Don Erickson, of Carlisle, Iowa, spent his weekend walking through Nebraska.
But that's nothing. By the end of the January, he plans to have walked roughly 3,300 miles from New York to California to raise awareness for organ donation.
It's just him, a jogging stroller that hauls his tent, not a child, and the open road.
The 55-year-old decided to embark on his journey in December. He researched the routes he would take, what he would need and what he might encounter, and hit the road in mid-June.
Erickson is not an organ transplant recipient, but he is a donor through the Iowa Donor Network. He's made it his mission to encourage others to become organ donors.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 120,310 people are waiting for an organ, 18 people will die each day waiting for one, and one organ donor can save up to eight lives.
“I think we can cut (those numbers) way down,” he said. “Who knows, maybe one day we can get rid of those statistics altogether.”
He's witnessed first-hand how being a donor can change lives.
When a friend's brother, Joseph Rethmeier, died in his mid-30s, he donated his organs, saving five lives and improving dozens of others.
That helped family and friends grieve because they saw the positive impact his organ donation had on others.
“When I read some of the letters from the recipients, they were gut-wrenching,” Erickson said. “I get chills just thinking about them.”
A grandmother who had received one of the organs wrote, “Now I get to hold my grandchildren and watch them grow up.”
Erickson made his way into Omaha on Wednesday after crossing the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. He stopped at the Nebraska Medical Center and the Lied Transplant Center to chat with doctors and staff members. On Monday, he was in Lincoln en route to Beatrice before he reaches Kansas.
Strangers have offered Erickson food, a place to stay and anything to help him along the way.
“The people I have met have been awesome,” he said. “People are inherently good. This trip has really restored my perception of the human kind.”
When people don't offer him a hotel room or warm place to stay, he pitches his tent at churches, fire stations and homes of willing residents.
It's been a pretty smooth trip so far, except for a stolen cell phone in New York, blisters from walking in the rain in Pennsylvania and a lost wallet in Illinois.
Erickson said he's never been an avid runner or exercise enthusiast, but he's always loved to challenge himself.
After the trip, he said he plans take a vacation in California, then visit relatives in Australia. He'll rest for a few weeks and get back to reality, working as an electrician.
“If I can affect even one life by taking six or eight months out of my own life to do this journey, I think it's a win-win,” he said.
Follow his journey on his Facebook page.
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