Running across America with a stroller -- Fighting adversity

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Photos by Kyle Quick
Pictured left to right: Kyle Quick and Jeff Perez before he continues another day. 

Jeff Perez (East Elmhurst, Ny.) recently graduated from Adelphi University with an MBA. The easy road would have been to take a job offer and begin his career in the business world.  Instead he chose to take the road less traveled, more so a road hardly traveled at all, that is to run across the United States, The Transcontinental Project.  “You give but little when you give your possessions.  It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”

Pictured: The stroller Perez runs with, storing his supplies in.

Perez said, “I am 23, I have the rest of my life to work, but while I am young and able, I want to do something extraordinary, something huge and something that will help others.”  Perez is running across the United States to raise money for Global Kids and Sahnnon’s Fight.

Along with Adam Clark, a friend of Perez, they began the journey together from Jones Beach in Wantagh, Ny with a goal to run across the country to finish in Huntington Beach, Ca, over 2800 miles from start to finish.  They have been through Pennsylvania, Washington D.C, West Virginia, Kentucky, Illinois, and now in Missouri, where their journey changed course.

Unfortunately, due to personal matters Clark had to end his journey. Perez, now all alone, is determined to finish what he started because of a promise he made.  Clark left Lambert Airport, saying farewell to Perez, unwavering to quit until he reaches Hunting Beach.

Sunday night Perez’s journey brought him to the small town of New Haven, Mo. only to be stopped by Officer David Burke, who was simply making sure Perez was ok.

Pictured: Perez and David Burke at Subway.

Thanks to Burke I was fortunate enough to speak with Perez that night, sitting in my basement talking over an hour and gaining an insight about his motivation and drive. Little did I know I would find myself listening to one of the most inspiring people I have ever spoken to.  By sharing his story, Perez has given me perspective and motivation, reminding me that if there is something I want to do, to do it, because I only live once. 

On their website, Perez said before beginning his journey, “I believe that a person’s dedication has no boundaries and that their will, ethical approach, and ability to succeed is measured in time of hardship. Only during these times will a person’s ability to succeed shine as brightly as it can. This is the light that I hope to shine on my upcoming adventure. I’ve always wanted to give light to people who have experienced similar obstacles as I have, and completing this run seems to be a fitting way.”

Perez said, “It’s been about 40 days and has become my life style, I get up every morning and I move…move until I find a spot to take a nap, then I get up and I move… move, and continue to move, till sunset when I search for a place to sleep.  I have a sleeping bag to sleep in and then get up the next day to continue my journey.”

Q:  Has there been a point where you felt like giving up or had a moment where mentally you could not go any more?

Perez: “ Yesterday while riding on the Katy trail, I felt almost overwhelmed because I realized I was finally doing it by myself, the Katy trail was so long, I was thirsty and hungry, then a tear dropped, I wiped it away…keep going, going, going I told myself, because it finally hit me, from here on, it is just me, all alone with a map and a stroller.”

Q:  What are things you have thought of while running 8 hours everyday?

Perez:  "I think about my girlfriend and the first thing I want to do when I see her, how it will feel to hug her, to play PS3, drive a car, so many little things I had taken for granted, I have more of an appreciation for my family.  I have a twin brother, I never thought I would miss and now I can’t wait to get a huge hug from him.

I think about what I might be doing if I was in New York right now.  Mind you, when you are on the road everyday, you think about everything, everything, this and that, millions of thoughts racing through your brain, so I try to look at different scenery, take photos to keep my mind at rest or blog about my day."

Q:  Have you ever thought about giving up?

Perez: "No, no, I have never thought about giving up.  I am almost half way there and when I reach that part, the cup will be half full."

Q:  What has kept you going everyday?

Perez: "I want to raise as much money for these charities I have made a promise to and when I get there…success!  This is my first venture, I don’t want to look back and ask myself if I could have made it or would of, could of, or should of.  I want to look back and be able to say I fought adversity.  I was homeless for three months of my life, hungry, tired; it has been character building…kind of makes you a better person in a way, realizing all the things I have taken for granted and I now have more appreciation for the little things and even more so, how much I appreciate my family."

Monday morning, Perez packed his stroller; I wished him the best of luck and watched him run off, continuing his journey to Huntington Beach.

I will never be able to thank him for the inspiration I needed and helping to give me a new perspective and appreciate the little things I have taken for granted.

If you want to contribute to Shannon’s Fight, Global Kids or to Perez helping him to continue his journey, all funds left over will be given to both charities. Click here to visit The Transcontinental Project’s website for more information and read Perez’s blog.

Click here for Perez's route on a map.


Pictured: After saying farwell, Jeff Perez continues his journey headed west on highway E.