By KATIE ATKINS
OBSERVER Staff Writer
Thomas Francine is taking a 3,143 mile walk across the nation in order to shed light on the good of humanity. He has spent the last two months walking south from Portland, Maine and is passing through Western New York this weekend. He aims to cover roughly 20 miles per day and said he's covered roughly 600 miles of pavement so far.
OBSERVER Photo by Craig Harvey
Thomas Francine is pictured in Dunkirk Saturday on his way across the country from Maine to California.
"People don't seem to realize how many good people are out there," he said in a phone interview on Friday as he passed Evangola State Park in Irving."It's been amazing. I'm meeting a lot of people everywhere I go," said the 26-year-old Woodbridge, NJ native over the sound of a semi passing in the background.
The purpose of the walk is to not only shed light on the good of humanity but to also inspire others to work with this faith as part of Francine's "Change the World!" campaign. He's handing out cards along the way to encourage people to show compassion for themselves, a stranger or someone they know.
As for shelter, Francine said he camps out 50 percent of the time and also stays with people he meets along the way.
Francine's website says he has hitchhiked 26,000 miles around the world to places like Texas and as far as Turkey. He was inspired to walk by people he has met in the past.
"I like traveling and meeting people. What inspired me was all of the great people in my life," he said.
Francine was also inspired by "Peace Pilgrim: An American Sage," a documentary about peace activist Mildred Lisette Norman who walked for 28 years with nothing but the clothes on her back.
Speaking of possessions, what is Francine bringing with him?
He walks behind a three-wheeled stroller containing everything people happen to hand him along the way.
As he passed through upstate New York on his sixth week, he was given a variety of items such as fruit, sandwiches, water, spaghetti and even a bluegrass history lesson.
He hopes to make it to California by January.
When asked if he's had any memorable or favorite places since he left Maine, he said, "One of my favorite places is Johnstown, New York. I met a lot of nice people there."
"Sometimes people ask if I have any official sponsors for my journey. I don't, but I do have hundreds of unofficial sponsors, who I find in every single town I enter," Francine's blog reads.
"I wouldn't be able to keep going without various forms of encouragement, so thank you all, once again."
To learn how you can get involved with Francine's journey or to keep track of his latest travels, visit www.gogreatergood.com.