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Colorado man walking across U.S. to raise cancer awareness

Colorado man walking across U.S. to raise cancer awareness
Colorado man walking across U.S. to raise cancer awareness
Ron Kessler hikes S.R. 62 on the western edge of Corydon on Monday, April 28. (Photo by Alan Stewart)

Ron Kessler of Fort Collins, Colo., already has a pair of biking trips across the United States under his belt, as well as two full trips along the 2,175-mile Appalachian Trial. But no adventure has as much meaning to him personally as the journey he’s currently on.
A close college friend of Kessler’s was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004; last July it was discovered her cancer was terminal.
‘She’s still alive, but obviously we don’t know what’s going on in the future,’ Kessler, 39, said. It’s the first time I’ve ever been close to cancer involving someone that young. It kind of shook me out of my little world. I felt like I needed to do something with a cause.’
The cause has been raising funds and awareness to fight breast cancer, and the ‘something’ is walking across America.
He started with a foot in the Atlantic Ocean on the Delaware coast at Cape Henlopen State Park on March 1, bound for Point Reyes National Seashore just north of San Francisco. He hopes to make it by Labor Day.
Kessler, who can’t be missed with his bright pink curly-haired wig, pink-rimmed glasses and 25-pound backpack, has already trekked nearly 1,000 miles of the approximate 3,000-mile journey. Kessler was in Corydon on April 28 and said he’d eclipse the milestone somewhere near Leavenworth.
The weather so far has been favorable, and even if it wasn’t, Kessler wouldn’t complain: ‘It’s tough to complain about the weather or walking when I think about what my friend is going through. I think what I’m doing is easy by comparison.’
Kessler pointed out that women over the age of 40 should get a mammogram and clinical breast exam once a year, and do a breast self-exam once a month. Women between the ages of 20 and 39 should get a breast exam at least every three years and also do a self-exam once a month.
Kessler has accepted food donations along the way, and says when it comes to sleeping, he tries to find shelters and tent sites; however, he has accepted invitations from several people to stay in their homes overnight.
‘Doing the trip like this, you meet a whole cross-section of people you don’t normally meet in life. I’ve been helped a lot by people comping me meals or buying my meals. Indiana has been awesome. The support I’ve received here has just been amazing; the best of the trip so far, and I’m not just patronizing when I say that,’ Kessler said.
Kessler, who received a few pairs of shoes courtesy of New Balance and walking poles from LEKI, will follow S.R. 62 and had hoped to get to Evansville by May 1. From there, it’s on to St. Louis, where he’ll meet some friends and family, including his mom ‘ appropriately enough ‘ on Mother’s Day. He’ll continue on the American Discovery Trail for as long as he can, walking from Missouri, across northern Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and California, where he’ll pick the ADT back up in the Bay Area.
So how will Kessler get home once he reaches the Pacific Ocean? He says he’ll either fly or hitchhike, adding, ‘I’m definitely not walking.’
Anyone wishing to donate to Kessler’s cause can donate online at firstgiving.com/roadtothecure, by phone at 1-877-GO-KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) or by mail at: Susan G. Komen for the Cure, 5005 LBJ Freeway, Suite 250, Dallas, TX 75244.
To keep up with Kessler’s travels, go to his online journal at www.trailjournals.com/roadtothecure.

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