WATSEKA, ILL (WAND) - “Theres a million things I can't do, but I can walk.” 90-year-old Dean Troutman is embarking a year-long journey encompassing 3,600 miles across 15 states.
Every step of the way with a deep purpose, raising awareness for childhood cancer and raising funds for St. Jude's Children's Hospital. On his 10th day of his journey, WAND News caught up with Troutman on Route 24 between Crescent City and Watseka.
"I'm doing it for St Jude, this is my third walk for St Jude," Troutman told WAND News. It's not his first time strapping on his walking shoes. In 2015, he walked from Princeville, Illinois to Memphis Tennessee. That's about 500 miles, all to raise funds for St. Jude's Children's hospital. "You see the kids in there and it breaks your heart." Troutman says about his experience visiting the children hospital in Memphis.
Troutman is walking 3 miles an hour, averaging about 10 miles a day. He tells WAND News all the 15 states he plans to walk through. "Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri. Then, back into Illinois going from West to East." He tells WAND News.
Along the way, Troutman is pushing survival gear, he says "I had a long time to figure it out, but I have everything I would need for a year." He has clothes, pillows, rain gear, 4 pairs of shoes, sleeping bags, a cooler for water and more. “Even spare tires," he says, "I have spare tubes, extra front wheel."
Dean says he is always thinking about being safe when we walks, the main thing on his mind... staying alive, he tells WAND. He says, "I'm always watching the driving, If you don't keep concentration every minute on the road, someone will run over you."
He says he loves listening to country music when he can, but not just any country music. Troutman says, "I only listen to old classic country form the forties, fifties, sixties, anything past that is a no go."
Every three miles, Troutman takes a quick break on the side of the road, laying down to catch his breath and reload his feet. His family is tracking him through a smartphone and with his sense of humor intact, he says he always reminds his family to make sure he is not laying down for more than 10 minutes.
"They are GPS Tracking me, so I tell them, I said if you ever see me laying down for more than 10 minutes, call the coroner."
When his walk of the day is over, he stays at fire stations along his route, thanks to the help of his son. He sats, "my youngest son is volunteer firefighter so he's lining up with fire stations ahead of me."
His year-long trek is just getting started, he says he has no plans to quit as long as his legs continue pushing and donations continue rolling in. "This whole thing is about the kids from St. Jude and we need donations and as long as those donations are flowing in and my old legs are able to continue, I'm going to continue on this 3600 mile walk, for the kids."