Man easing on down the road
He kept his hiking cap pulled low over his eyes. Sweat rolled off his brow, and his back was hunched over from the 80 pounds of gear slung across it. A large walking stick helps him as ambles along the highway.
Steve Young, who is from Patrick Springs, Va., aims to walk to Utah. He says he wants to raise awareness for those with physical disabilities, and for Victory Junction, a year-round camping facility serving children ages 6 to 16 with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses. His hike, which began June 11, brought him through Lenoir Wednesday. His first stop was City Hall, to get his bearings and rest for a spell.
The camp, founded by actor Paul Newman with NASCAR driver Kyle Petty and his wife, Patty, opened in Randleman, N.C., in 2004 in honor of the Pettys' son Adam, who also was a race driver and died in a wreck in May 2000.
Young says he has been around racing all his life. He also grew up with a childhood friend named Lori Stubs, who he said suffered from severe birth defects.
"This is my way of honoring her," said Young, 57, his face wet with perspiration.
Young said this is his fourth foray onto the highways and byways of the U.S. In 2007, he hiked from Florida to California and back, a trip that took him almost a year to make. In 2009, he says he hiked to Vermont. In 2010, Minnesota and back. This time, he plans to dip south to Louisiana, then north to Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas and finally Utah, a total of 16 states, before his planned return to Virginia in May 2014.
He says he does not accept donations himself but will not turn down money for food and lodging if he needs them. He tells folks to donate to Victory Junction directly. He also accepts the occasional ride, but most of his journey will be guided by his road atlas, his wits and his faith.
"My Lord and Savior will get me through this," he said. "I'm just Steve from Patrick Springs. I'm nobody but a vehicle for not only Victory Junction but kids camps in general."
After a brief stay in Lenoir, he gathered up his backpack loaded with 10 pairs of socks, three pairs of jeans and spare boots, and headed down the highway.