Love life: Walker spreads his message state by state
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Monday, Apr. 20 | By Megan Spicer
Perhaps you saw an older man walking through Warrenton and Fauquier County on Monday afternoon dragging a cart behind him and a massive sign above his head encouraging people to love life.
That man is Steve Fugate and at 68 years old, he is two states away from completing his eighth cross-country trek spreading his message: Love Life.
He left his Vero Beach, Fla., home on March 23, 2013 and when he gets back to his front door at the end of May and in time to celebrate his 69th birthday, he will have walked a total of 40,000 miles over the years.
In 1999, while halfway through hiking the Appalachian Trail, Fugate received a call that his son had committed suicide. He left the trail and went home, but the following year, he decided to finish the last 940 miles – “screaming and crying” – in his son’s name.
“I realized that I didn’t want any other parent to go through the horror I was in,” Fugate said, standing on the side of the road across from Taylor Middle School on Monday afternoon. “So I came up with this: Love Life.”
His daughter helped to orchestrate his first two walks but three weeks from finishing his second trek, he received word that his daughter, who had multiple sclerosis, had accidentally overdosed on her medication.
As of Monday, he had walked 46 of the 48 lower states with only the Carolinas standing in his way. He said he may consider walking through Georgia and into Florida to finish his walk, but knows that he can opt to get home some other way if he chooses.
His walking had introduced him to a broad spectrum of people and often, his followers on Facebook will provide food and a night in a motel if they are near where he is walking. While talking to a Fauquier Times reporter on Monday, a young woman stopped to give him lunch from Little Ceasars. They didn’t talk much but she said he seemed like he may need a lunch. He extended a thank you and she was on her way.
“What I do is I spread the message of ‘love life,’” Fugate said. “People contemplating taking their life, thinking the world will be better off without them, this is what I say, ‘You know what? You do not have the right to take your own life, it doesn’t belong to just you. It belongs to your loved ones.”
Throughout the years on his walks, Fugate has learned to ignore negativity and to stop complaining. He refers to infomercials spreading one agenda or another, offering a better suggestion for their messages.
“The infomercials need to be saying love,” Fugate said. “Just love because love includes it all. It’s not love and peace, it’s not love and coexist, it’s just love. Because when you love, you’re at peace with everybody, and when you love you’re coexisting with everybody.”
Read more about Fugate’s walk in the April 24 issue of Fauquier Friday.