He walked into Lawrence with a 50-pound backpack, a walking stick, $7 and several blisters.
"Today would have been my dad's 71st birthday," Jim Hickey, 37, Livingston, N.J., said Thursday. His father, Lawrence Hickey, died in 1995 of prostate cancer. Six months later, Jim Hickey's brother was diagnosed with the disease.
"It was gnawing at me," he said. "There was something I needed to do."
So he quit his job and began a walk across the country, trying to raise money for cancer research. He has walked 1,575 miles since April 30, when he left Middletown, N.J., with $250, a backpack and faith he would be taken care of.
"I was scared, but I knew I'd be OK," he said. In more than 180 days, he hasn't slept in the cold. He has found shelter in police stations and barns, but never outside. Along the way, people have fed and clothed him. In each town, he starts again, finding people that will help him on his trip.
"It has renewed my faith in humanity," he said.
With longer distances between towns in the West, he says he needs a support vehicle to continue. While looking for a sponsor, he's going to stay in Lawrence, working at Sports Page Brewery and saving money. He hopes to leave in March with a support vehicle, making his way into Southern California in the late spring.
"I can't make it by myself," he said. "I don't want to become a member of the Donner Party."
Hickey isn't taking donations for cancer research, but encourages people to send money to City of Hope, 1500 E. Duarte Road, Duarte, Calif. 91010, or the cancer charity of their choice. City of Hope officials aren't sure how much Hickey has raised on his trip so far.