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April 23, 2014

Stepping up for sick kids

After 240 miles, Valley walker 8% of way across U.S.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Two and a half weeks into his cross-country walk, Norman Horn was safe in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., about 240 miles east of where he started in San Francisco.

“The last couple days were really good,” Horn said Tuesday, up early and enjoying coffee at the home of a friend. So far, he’s averaging nearly 17 miles per day, more than he predicted, and the extra distance earned him a day off from walking Tuesday.

Horn, a 2002 Lewisburg Area High School graduate, started April 5 on his bucket-list journey turned cause for pediatric cancer. If all goes as planned, he will end on foot more than 3,000 miles later, in late October or early November, in Atlantic City, N.J.

His trek so far has taken him over San Francisco Bay on the north side, through Sacramento and through the Sierra Nevada — “the hardest part,” he said — and to the lake. When he starts up again, Horn will head north and, some 60 miles later, believes he’ll be in Reno, Nev., where his walk then mostly will be easterly.

The weather has cooperated for the most part, blessing Horn with temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees and “beautiful most days.” There was rain the forecast, though, and Horn predicted he’d be camping in it at some point.

“This will be a challenging week, but not so challenging that it will be impossible,” said the 30-year-old, who lives near Philadelphia and put his personal training and life coaching career on hold for the walk.

Sunrise to sunset

Tuesday was Day 18 of Horn’s quest to raise money for Coast 2 Coast for the Kids, the nonprofit organization he founded for awareness and fundraising for pediatric cancer. He’s holding up well, he said, rising with the sun and camping when it goes down, occasionally staying at the home of a friend or the friend of a friend.

“My body feels great. I feel ahead of game there,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d be doing this well this far in. There are no blisters, cuts or bruises, I have not run out of food or water. I planned intensely, but everything has been better than expected.”

Every day, so far, Horn has met someone with a story.

“I didn’t expect that … just the best people with the best intentions,” he said.

And he’s gotten different reactions from everyone.

“Some people are so in awe of distance and the whole idea behind it. Others couldn’t grasp the concept,” he said. “Some people donated right there, on their phones in front of me.”

Proceeds Horn generates through his long walk will benefit the Four Diamonds Fund at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. So far, Horn has raised $3,670, or 4 percent of his goal, according to the Coast 2 Coast website. Should he reach his goal, more than $90,000 will go to Four Diamonds.

The California media has caught up with Horn as well. He’s done interviews with CBS affiliates, appearing on “Good Day, Sacramento,” and will do the same in Reno. The publicity helped bring in donors from the West Coast.

Horn’s best story so far, he said, came via a runner he met who ran across the country twice to raise money for two sick children.

“He was someone I could relate to,” Horn said. “I then had coffee, and a police officer at Starbucks asked what I was doing. I told him — turns out that kid ran for his kids, who are terminally ill.”

 

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