Cross-country walk passes through Fitchburg
From a moose in the forest to “literally having mountains standing” in her way, Stacie Eichinger has seen plenty so far on her 2,250 mile walk across the country.
It brought her through Fitchburg on Monday.
The walk is a benefit for Beads of Courage, an organization that aims to provide “innovative, arts-in-medicine supportive care programs for children coping with serious illness,” which Eichinger volunteered with for two years before deciding to do the walk.
She first had the idea to walk across the country when she read “Walk Across America” by Peter Jenkins as a 17-year-old, and thought, “What an awesome way to see the country.”
“And it has been,” she said.
When she thought of pairing that walk with a charity like Beads of Courage, she knew she had found a good match.
“They’re losing their hair, but they smile because they got a brown bead for it,” she said of what the organization does for children with cancer.
Her journey began in Ocean Shores, Wash., 157 days ago and will take her all the way to Savannah, Ga., which she hopes to reach around the end of January, weather-permitting.
So far, she has walked up two mountains, been nearly face-to-face with a moose, which she described as “scary,” and sat out a thunderstorm on the side of an interstate.
She passes most of her time with music or other activities on her phone, although she accidentally put her iPod through a washing machine in Rochester, Minn.
While her host there bought her a new one, she has no music on her laptop and hopes some of her Facebook followers will help replenish that via Dropbox.
At night, Eichenger either camps out or finds a family to stay with via social media or email, especially now that she is in the more populated Midwest and through the Great Plains states.
She said it takes a lot of work on her phone, but once she makes a connection in one place, she’s usually able to “keep the ball rolling” and find families to help her for the days ahead.
Eichenger, who lives in Tucson, Ariz., where Beads of Courage was founded, walked along County Highway M through Fitchburg on her way to Milwaukee, where she will visit children at a hospital Tuesday.
Her beads for the trip are small running shoes, and a $10 donation sponsors one bead plus a mile of her walk.
So far, she’s raised $17,000, though she hopes to have every mile of her trip sponsored for a total of $38,000.
Although she has realized recently how far she has already come, and for the first time began planning exactly where her walk will end in Savannah, she is trying not to look too far ahead.
“I’m just trying to enjoy it,” she said.
For more information on Eichinger’s trip, visit walk4courage.com.