What started as training for a leisurely hike for Thurston Weaver turned into a whole lot more.
The 24-year-old was working as bartender when COVID-19 hit, and found himself unemployed with a lot of extra time on his hands.
"I started working in the restaurant industry when I was 18 years old, so I was always used to being on my feet," said Weaver. "After I lost my job I started a regimen of walking daily with a 20 pound pack on, sometimes 25 miles a day to keep busy."
When he told his friends about these treks, they encouraged him to use his energy to give back.
"The idea stuck and within two days I was planning a 350 mile walkabout to raise money for people in need," he said.
He started out from Pike Place Market on June 8th, and has created an online fundraiser for people to pledge/donate whatever they feel is reasonable per mile, or make a one time donation. The goal is to raise $20,000 for the Washington Food Fund.
"I have a close childhood friend with a toddler who is struggling to put food on the table, like so many others right now," he said. "I wanted to choose a charity that supports families like hers during this uncertain time."
While 350 miles may sounds a little steep for most of us, Weaver is no stranger to the outdoors.
"I grew up regularly going on back country trips with my family and through the Scouts, fishing and hiking," said Weaver. "It’s just never gotten old to me."
Now 10 days into his trek (as of this posting on June 17), he has a "pesky blister" but is still going strong. When we spoke to him, he was near Spokane, WA.
"The first step I took on this trek was a giant milestone for me, personally," he said. "It's the first actionable step I took toward the professional goals that I’ve set for myself."
The original plan was to stop at the Washington/Idaho boarder but due to a few hiccups (weather and a steep incline) Weaver had to hitch a rid. To make up the miles he'll be extending his journey, and expects to arrive Friday morning June 19th.
"I'm embarking on this journey to make sure I’m helping build a stronger community for my neighbors."