From Canada to Key West - A Four Month Run to End MS
BY KERRY MCKENZIE
Snakes, frogs, flooding – Stephen Moyer has seen it all on his 2,200 mile run from Canada to Key West. So why did Stephen, a high school teacher living in Bucks County, decide to undertake such a daring journey?
“I’ve always wanted to do one of those epic types of runs,” Stephen said, when we spoke with him in November.
One of the scenic stops along Stephen's 2,200 mile journey
And when his wife, Laurie, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2013, he found his reason.
“Instead of running a 5K for MS,” he thought. “Why don’t I run a ‘Forrest Gump’ type run for MS?”
He floated the idea to his wife, and “she said, ‘you’re nuts.’”
But he couldn’t let it go. So when the application for a sabbatical was due in the fall of 2014, he ran it by his wife one more time and they decided he should apply. Typically, Stephen said, an application for sabbatical takes three or four years to be approved. But two months later, he got a letter giving him the go ahead.
“The timing was not at all the way we hoped,” Stephen said. “My daughter’s in law school. I coach track and field and cross country. I had all these things on my plate.”
Despite the challenges, Stephen knew that this was his chance. So he started working out all the logistics. And more importantly, he began preparing his wife for the possibility of not seeing him for four months.
Mystic, Connecticut was another stop along Stephen's route
“And that’s a big deal,” he said. “She and I have been married for 25 years and we’ve never been apart for more than two or three days.”
When we spoke in November, Stephen was sitting at a gas station in Florida, and his feet were beginning to feel the wear and tear from the road.
“I’m right around 2,000 miles now,” he said. “The toughest challenge is keeping my feet healthy enough that I can continue.”
There are other challenges as well. A lot of bridges and tunnels don’t allow pedestrians, so he has been forced off course. He recalled one road in Virginia, where on one side there was a sheer rock face, and on the other, a cliff. “Either way,” he said, “trucks are whizzing by.”
Even though it’s been hard, what keeps him going is his wife, Laurie, and everyone else living with MS. One of the highlights of the trip was his stop in his hometown. He took the day off, it was a Saturday, and spent it with his wife. They were only supposed to spend that day together, but he had something else up his sleeve.
Even though it’s been hard, what keeps him going is his wife, Laurie, and everyone else living with MS.
“I found out my wife had tickets to the Eagles game the next day,” he recalled.
So he secured a ticket without his wife knowing. The next day, he said goodbye to Laurie, and ran to his daughter’s apartment in West Philadelphia. When he got to the game, he found the section his wife was sitting in and explained his situation to the security guard. When he got through, Stephen, being a bit of a prankster, bought a bag of peanuts and pretended to be a salesman. “Peanuts here, peanuts here,” he yelled out, as he walked down to where Laurie was sitting. When she looked up, there were a lot of tears, hugging, and a few more hours to spend with his wife before hitting the road again.
At the gas station in Florida, Stephen knew that the end of his run was near. His plan was to reach mile marker zero in Key West, Florida, the day before Thanksgiving. His entire family was flying down to meet him to celebrate. The following week, Stephen would be back in Newtown, teaching high school.
“Not a lot of rest for the weary,” he laughed.
UPDATE: The day before Thanksgiving, Stephen was greeted at mile marker zero by people from all over the world asking to be in pictures with him. In a blog post, Stephen writes, “Although we have met our target fundraising goal please keep the donations coming. If you haven’t made a donation it’s not too late to help ‘finish MS’….and thanks again to my family, friends, the George School community, and especially my fantastic wife Laurie.”
You can see Stephen’s journey at www.canadatokeywestcoastalrun.org. He is still accepting donations for his Finish MS campaign. So far, he has raised $5,600 for the National MS Society.
This article was originally published in the MS Connection Newsletter - 2016 Issue 1.