Walking on the path less traveled

Wednesday, April 24, 2013
Dave Brown

Robert Frost wrote a poem in the 1920s called "The Road Not Taken," and the last three lines on the poem -- "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference" -- those words have inspired many.

One man has taken Frost's words to a new literal meaning, though.

Dave Brown started a walking journey on U.S. 40 in Atlantic City, N.J., and will follow this old road all the way to San Francisco.

Brown started his walk on Feb. 28 in Atlantic City and has made his way to Putnam County in the 54 for days since he started. His journey that brought him here started years earlier however.

In 1983 Brown's wife Joan gave him a book titled "U.S. 40 Today." This book depicted the journey of Thomas and Geraldine Vale. They took pictures of the landscape along the National Road and compared them to another book made 30 years before that was titled "U.S. 40."

Years later Joan became sick and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She lost her battle with the disease and Brown lost the love of his life.

A month after losing Joan, a friend of hers, suggested Brown go see a film called "My Run" by Terry Hitchcock that was being presented at Penn State Great Valley, the school Joan had been attending before she passed. The film struck a chord with Brown.

"She (Joan's friend) and I had no Idea what the movie was about," Brown recalled as he sat at the Marathon station at the crossroads of U.S. 231 and U.S. 40 south of Greencastle. "I went and saw it ... It recounted Hitchcock's last two weeks with his wife who was dying of breast cancer. It mimicked the last two weeks I had with mine."

After the death of his wife Hitchcock went on to participate in 75 marathons to raise awareness not only for cancer, also for the single-parent homes that can be left in the aftermath.

Brown came up with an idea of a way to help other women, raise awareness of ovarian cancer and to keep the memory of his wife alive.

Brown's big plan became to walk across U.S. 40. At the time he was working for Vanguard and believed that he wouldn't undertake the journey for at least another six years.

"We (the company) were going over plans for the next year and something just snapped," Brown recalled.

Brown left his job and started training for his trek across the United States. His training went on for seven and a half months before he started his journey. Although Brown had been a walker and jogger in his everyday life, he needed to be able to build up an endurance to walk his now 3.5 miles an hour. He only took five days off during his training, which included 10 miles at the gym, biking and at least two hours at the gym a day.

Another part of his travels was to start up a blog that would let him update people on his progress along the road and help bring ovarian cancer to people's attention.

"This feels like the most right thing I have ever done," Brown commented about his trek.

In the 54 days that Brown has been walking he has only spent three days in a hotel. He knew that people could be generous, but was slightly astonished about the number of people who were willing to put him up for a night.

Brown's website has helped him to accumulate almost $15,000 in donations as well for the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

"If I can help one women, this is a success." Brown commented.

Brown will continue his voyage on the National Road through the rest of Putnam County, onto Clay County and to other points west until he reaches San Francisco.

"I never dreamed of doing this if my wife hadn't given me that book." Brown stated.

To find out more information on Brown's Walk Across America visit his website at http://www.ocjoan.blogspot.com/, or follow his trek through Facebook at www.facebook.com/ocjoanx.

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