I have been looking to ‘pay it forward’ for a while now in the arena of giving people a lift, because not too long ago, after hang gliding 50 miles I was stuck without a ride home because I had planned on trying hitchhiking for the first time. It took me about 20 minutes of looking sketchy to get picked up and get a ride back to my car.

Well, yesterday I was driving to the bank and saw a guy who wasn’t hitch hiking, he looked like he was up to something, on a mission, walking on down the shoulder of the country road. I thought, if he’s still on this road on my way back from the bank, I’m giving him a ride, even though he’s not sticking his thumb out. I’ll just offer it.

He had made it a ways down the road by the time I was on my way back and stopped to ask him if he needed a ride some where. He looked relieved as it was already incredibly hot and humid and said, ‘yes please.’ It didn’t take but a few minutes to realize my hunch, that this guy was on a mission, was correct. Dan Lyons has been walking across the country since February for Locks of Love, which is a non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis (you can donate HERE).

Dan Lyons (photo by Lucas Ridley).

Dan is an incredible guy, he’s taking the longest way possible, it seems, across the country: diagonally starting from Washington state down to Florida, so he’s ‘almost’ done. I invited him to stay at my house last night and he was great company, a real inspiration, and got me thinking about a similar trip I’ve been brainstorming about for some time. He had plenty of stories! One thing he pressed upon me was, if you want something bad enough you can do it. Every one told him he couldn’t do this trip, it was crazy, but he said, “See you in August” and is on his way to accomplishing his goal despite people’s pessimism.

Dan is 56 years old, a retired school teacher, and has been doing the trip entirely solo. He did say he’s stayed and been invited into 31 homes since he started, and he tries to stay in a motel once a week to get a good nights sleep. He’ll start walking as early as 4:30am with his 30 lb backpack to beat the heat, and try and be done for the day before noon or 1pm. He started by doing 30 miles a day and said he’s only taken 3 days off from walking since February! When he left this morning he was going another 8 miles up the road to another hang glider pilots house who I connected him up, Claire, thanks Claire for keeping the chain going!

I asked him if he trained for the trip before he started and he replied “Nah, it’s just walking.” Ha! This guy is great and it was an honor to meet someone like him. He doesn’t have a blog but he tries to meet with local newspapers along the way to spread the word. He is doing this trip in honor of his daughter who passed away from breast cancer at the age of 17. He said she was always interested in traveling and they had even talked about doing a trip like this together when she got better, so he’s doing the trip by himself in her honor. You’re an inspiration Dan, keep it up, you’re almost there!

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