A tribute to his wife: Man walks across nation to raise money for cancer research

News-DemocratMay 6, 2013 

Dave Brown has walked a lot of miles in a lot of different states as a member of the Liberty Bell Wanderers walking club.

But this is his first time walking all the miles across the country. His only regret is that he has to do it as a tribute to his wife, Joan, who died from ovarian cancer.

He is raising money for ovarian cancer research along the way, getting donations from people he meets and also online at his website, ocjoan.blogspot.com.

He also is having a great time as he posts to his site every day, regaling his readers with the small wonders he has found along his way. On Monday, he already had some pictures from the area on his Facebook page.

He also has met some of the nicest people along the way, he said.

"People have been insane," he said.

He means that in a nice way, like in the fact that he has only had to pay for a hotel five days out of his 58 on the road.

"Everyone offers me help," he said. "The less I have to spend, the more I can donate."

He said donations are well over $15,000 so far.

Brown, 61, spent Sunday night in Glen Carbon. He said he usually walks about 14 miles a day.

He has a simple plan. He drives his car ahead 14 miles and parks it (some place he can find it later) and gets a ride back to his starting point and walks to his car. On Monday, he left his car at the Gateway Arch in downtown St. Louis.

On his journey through the metro-east he used part of the system of bike trails. Leonard Wojtysiak, of the Illinois Trekkers, helped him along the way on Monday.

Brown had been following the National Road, old U.S. 40, as much as possible. Joan had given him a book about the road and he carries along pictures from it and tries to match them as he walks.

Baltimore is probably the biggest city he walked through and he saw a lot of little towns along the way as well. But the countryside had predominated.

"I've seen a lot of wide open spaces," he said.

He posted pictures of flooded fields as he approached the metro-east. He also took time to drive by and photograph the Brooks Catsup Bottle water tower in Collinsville.

The trek began Feb. 28 in Atlantic City, N.J., and he plans to finish Oct. 12 in San Francisco.

He endured snow and colder temperatures in the East. He has slogged through rain in Illinois. Heat and humidity probably are coming his way as he heads toward Kansas and the Great Plains.

The only thing that could make his trip more of a joy would be a breakthrough in ovarian cancer treatment, he said.

Have a column idea? Call Wally at 239-2506 or 800-642-3878; or email: wspiers@bnd.com

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