Starting at Johnnie Mercer’s Pier on March 10, Virginia native Cody Thompson plans to trek his way through the lower United States with plans for completing the nearly 3,000-mile journey in Redondo Beach, Calif., to benefit the Child’s Play nonprofit organization.
Thompson said he originally planned the walk three years ago after seeing a news report of a 16 year old walking from Florida to New York to raise awareness for homeless issues.
“I see this 16-year-old kid out doing this amazing thing and ... I am sitting here at 6 a.m. with a cup of coffee in my hand barely staying awake at work,” Thompson said by telephone on Monday, March 4.
Yet, the planning that goes into walking across the United States caused Thompson to postpone his plans until seven months ago.
“August of last year I left my job and decided if it was ever going to happen it would happen now,” he said. “I actually talked to three people who have walked across the United States and their advice has been invaluable. Even after seven months I don’t feel ready, but the people I talked to said you never really feel ready for it; -event-ually you need to just step off the beach.”
When he renewed his commitment to make the journey, Thompson, an avid video game player, also decided to use it as a way to raise money for the national nonprofit Child’s Play.
“Child’s Play was started by video game players, and last year they raised over $12 million,” he said. “They seek to improve the lives of children in hospitals all over the world through the donation of toys, games and books.”
As a child, Thompson directly benefitted from playing video games because of an eye disease that required surgery.
“When I was 4 years old, I had an eye disease that was only curable through surgery and part of my recovery was the doctor -actually prescribing video games, so my parents got me an Atari,” Thompson said. “Games actually helped me when I was a kid; they had a beneficial influence on my life but they get a lot of bad attention in the media.”
After Thompson takes his first steps away from Johnnie Mercer’s Pier, he said he would have to depend on the kindness of -strangers when locating places to pitch his tent to sleep when there are no campgrounds. While the fear of failure is ever present, Thompson said he would not accept quitting if he came to a point where he thought it was too difficult.