If you haven’t been following along with Norman Horn’s journey across the country, now’s the time to start. Norm is trekking “Coast 2 Coast FTK” to raise money and awareness for THON and the Four Diamonds Fund. Starting in April, Norm took off in Southern California and plans to finish up in Atlantic City, NJ this October.
A few years after graduating from Penn State, Norm had the idea to do something big for the kids at Hershey. “It stemmed from being a student at Penn State. I never participated in THON, I always viewed it from the outside,” he said. “It just really became something I wish I became more involved with in the past.” So, he visited Hershey Medical Center and talked to some of their executives to get the ball rolling.
Training consisted of hiking in Southern California in order to be near high elevation (and, as he said, remove himself from the east coast winter!). He began walking just a few miles a day and slowly built himself to hiking upwards of 20 miles a day. He added, “It was fun and got me mentally prepared for what I’m doing now. My legs are sore every day, but it’s more of a mental soreness than a physical one.”
Having already walked roughly 1700 miles, Norm has gone through 5 pairs of shoes in 3 months and 11 days. Eastern Colorado has, so far, been the toughest part to walk through. Throughout the toughest part, though, he spoke of an elderly couple who found him frustrated and walking late at night. After a 30-mile day and no place to put his tent, they took him in for the night and fed him. “It was an unbelievable circumstance,” Norm said.
Norm has raised over $15,000 since his trip began. He’s received packages, donations, letters, and all kinds of interesting things in the mail. He said, “It’s like Christmas for me when I get a package.” He went on to explain that Four Diamonds Families have graciously sent him heartfelt letters and care packages to keep him going. He’s received art from kids going through treatment, and their drawings from when they were done. “It’s a humbling experience,” he said, “I’m preparing myself for the next emotional breakdown. They support me in this beyond my wildest dreams. They’ve gone way over the top to make me comfortable. It’s really humbling. It’s unbelievable!”
As for the next few steps in his journey, Norm explained, “I go where I know I can talk to people.” This week he went to Wichita to meet with another cancer foundation, and he’ll be meeting with some Kansas City Penn State Alumni Association members. Some big places he plans on hitting next are St. Louis, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus (after he was invited by the BuckeyeTHON Executive Committee!), Pittsburgh, Hershey, his hometown of Phoenixville, Philadelphia, and, finally, Atlantic City, NJ. Throughout his trek in Pennsylvania (or any leg of the trip), he’s asking for any and all to join in on the fun.
“Join my little mission,” he said, “and fight against cancer.”
If you would like to contribute to Norm's fundraising efforts, please visit his website. You can keep up with his daily adventures via Facebook and Twitter.
If you’d like to chat with Norm or ask him where to send a letter, you can send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.