Grieving dad walks to prevent suicide

News editor

After walking more than 32,000 miles, Steve Fugate of Florida passed through Marion on Monday on his Love Life Walk.

In 1999, Fugate went hiking on the Appalachian Trail, leaving his son, Stevie, in charge of the business at home. While Fugate was on the trail, his son committed suicide. As part of the grieving process, Fugate finished his hike on the Appalachian Trail, and while doing so, he realized that too many parents were going through the same grieving process he was.

That thought inspired Fugate to begin walking all across the 48 contiguous states, carrying a sign urging people to “Love Life.”

He wants people contemplating suicide to understand how badly it would hurt the people who love them. Parents, children, siblings, and other loved ones are victims of suicide as much as the person who takes his or her own life, he said.

During his first walk, he heard from so many people that he decided to walk across the country again.

On his second walk, his daughter, Michele, died of an accidental overdose of medications she took for multiple sclerosis.

Since 1999, he has walked across the U.S. six times. On his current trip, started in March, he already has been through 14 states and has 34 to go.

“I’ve worn out over 50 pairs of shoes,” Fugate said.

So far on this trek, Kansas has been the longest distance traveled in a single state. He entered in the northeast and plans to go through the Oklahoma panhandle as he leaves.

On Sunday he walked south on U.S. 77, into Marion on U.S. 56, and camped for the night behind Superior Wine and Liquor. He hoped to reach McPherson on Monday.

 

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