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76-year-old walks U.S. for the 9th time in hopes to spread love and prevent suicide

WTXL Man Walks
Posted at 8:00 PM, Apr 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-08 20:00:10-04

THOMASVILLE, Georgia (WTXL) — Steve Fugate, age 76, is making it his mission to spread love and compassion despite any challenges you may be facing.

Fugate, from Vero Beach, Florida, has walked across the U.S. for what will soon be nine times.

When asked why, Fugate points to his sign, Love Life. A sign Fugate started sharing across the country after his oldest son, Steven, committed suicide and years later losing his daughter Michelle from Multiple Sclerosis.

"For reasons I'll never fully understand my son ended his life," said Fugate.

Now, Fugate is making his way from Florida to Oregon once again while sharing his message along the way.

One he hopes will make its way to a person who needs it.

"I'm making my babies proud and that's the gist of it," said Fugate.

Fugate said it takes him approximately 6 to 8 months to walk across the U.S. averaging anywhere between 7 to 14 miles a day and resting for about two days at a time. Fugate's first walk was back in 2001, since then, his story has spread.

He told me people often honk as they pass and some even stop and share how his story has inspired them.

His journey took him to Thomasville where many community members gravitated towards his story. Community members like Allison Bartlett. She came across Fugate’s story years ago and once he made his way to Thomasville, she had to meet him.

“As humans we all deal with grief differently. Instead of being depressed and hating life, and why’d this happens to me, he turned it around,” said Bartlett.

Barlett said she’s always been helpful but Fugate’s story serves as a reminder to always spread kindness. From there she washed Fugate’s clothes and helped repair his cart before he set out on his journey.

“I hope I’m an inspiration to someone as much as Steve is to other people,” said Bartlett.