Mike Warren is fighting cancer one step at a time, and right now he has about 2,800 miles to go.
Wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat and sandwich board that reads “Walking America 4 cancer. Donate at www.usahands.org,” Warren stayed the night Wednesday at a Carson City hotel as he makes he way across America on foot in support of cancer research and education.
“Nowadays, everyone is affected by cancer, directly or indirectly,” the 60-year-old veteran said recently. “About 3,400 people are diagnosed with cancer every day, and 1,500 die every day from cancer. So my feeling was, OK, I’m going to do something.”
That something began July 23 at the Emeritus Assisted Living center in Vacaville, Calif. He plans to follow U.S. Highway 50 until he hits Baltimore. He expects the walk to take 75-90 days, depending on weather and road conditions. Once through the mountains, Warren will start covering 30 to 40 miles a day.
The goal is to raise $100,000 for cancer research and cancer patients.
“I would like them to find a cure in my lifetime,” Warren said. “The treatments that they have now — surgery, chemotherapy and radiation — those are devastating in themselves, but the side-effects ... We need people to donate so the research can go on.”
Warren also wants to educate people about all the types of cancer — lung, liver, skin, prostate, breast and bladder, to name a few.
“All these cancers, a lot of people don’t really hear about,” he said. “You hear the most about breast cancer, but more people actually die from lung cancer. We want to make sure that people know about all the cancers.”
Along the way, Warren will stop in McDonald’s to charge his phone, at gas stations to fill up his water bottles and try to find relatively safe and quiet spots to sleep. A support car usually is 25 to 30 miles behind him.
Warren doesn’t know what he’s going to run into along the next 2,800 miles, but he knows the effort is worth it.
“I know it’s not going to be easy. I’ve got blisters already, but I’ll just put one foot in front of the other,” he said. “I don’t have cancer, but to me, doing what I’m doing is nothing compared to the treatments and what people have to go through to fight cancer.”