Marine has pulled 400-pound cart in 5-year trek across country

Undertook journey after wife, daughter died

July 18, 2014 at 9:10 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Allie Stevens (left) left California five years ago to journey across the country. It took him three years just to make his way through Texas with his 400-pound rickshaw. Stevens was joined for part of his trek by Houma native Chase Toups (right).
Allie Stevens (left) left California five years ago to journey across the country. It took him three years just to make his way through Texas with his 400-pound rickshaw. Stevens was joined for part of his trek by Houma native Chase Toups (right).
Allie Stevens was a strange sight to see as he lugged a 400-pound rickshaw along Highway 90 through St. Charles Parish last week.

Stevens began his journey in California and had been on the road, walking along the sides of highways and interstates, for the last five years when he reached Des Allemands. His ultimate goal is to make it to Miami.

Stevens’ rickshaw is a testament to his long trek, adorned with mementos from all of the different places he has been since his walk began on Sept. 13, 2009.

While the rickshaw is loaded with license plates and police department badges, what sticks out the most is that one side of the cart is entirely pink. Many have signed that area of the rickshaw to honor those who have passed away from cancer or are currently fighting the disease.

Stevens, 60, is no stranger to disastrous effect cancer can cause. The former marine lost both his wife and daughter to the disease. He was also diagnosed with cancer, but survived.

“I am just doing this walk to show the world that if you put God first you accomplish anything and if you beat this cancer you can accomplish anything,” he said.

Although Stevens emphasizes his involvement in cancer non-profit work, the trip is more than just that – it is a spiritual journey meant to get at the heart of the country.

Stevens has done just that by taking the time to stop in several communities along his journey and get to know people and develop relationships.

“I want people to see, I don’t care how big or little the towns are, how wonderful these towns are because God is everywhere and people can actually see it by walking through every little town and writing a story about it. I just want people to see how great America is altogether. That is the basis of the whole walk,” he said.

Stevens’ affinity with the rickshaw began shortly after his wife died in 2007 when he felt he needed to do something to connect with people and bring happiness into their lives.

“I went fishing and I was at the pier in Oceanside and I realized that a lot of people couldn’t walk the pier. I went and got a little horse cart and started giving free rides up the pier,” he said “I put a karaoke machine on it and I would sing to them on the free rides.”

After an observer remarked that Stevens had been up and down the pier with 65 passengers in one day and that it might be a world record, Stevens began to contemplate a journey that would actually set a world record.

“The Guinness Book of World Records has a lot of rickshaw world records, but I am the only one with a walking rickshaw,” he said.

The current trip marks the third time Stevens has attempted the to pull his rickshaw cross-country. His first attempt began in 2007 after his wife died, but was halted after 147  days when he was hit by a bottle tossed by a passing motorist. His second attempt, in early 2009, came to an end after 642 miles when a police cruiser ran into his rickshaw.

He has currently logged around 2,000 miles and by the end of the trip expects that he will have traveled 5,000 miles due to the excursions he often takes into and around different towns.

Stevens’ trip has also led to seven hospitalizations. Once he was attacked by wild pigs and another time he suffered from severe dehydration.

But he keeps going.

“I am able to show people that you don’t need much. I left Oceanside with not one cent in my pocket. I did it without a meal or a place to camp – that is a testimony to America and you can see that,” he said.  

Although he has run into his share of negative reactions, Stevens said his journey has been a positive one and he has been touched by a lot of people along the way who donate money to him or give him a place to stay.

“This country is really just so remarkable. When you walk, you slow down and see things you’ve never seen before. I’ve seen bugs, critters, animals, plants and things I didn’t even know existed,” Stevens said. “I was able to use my wife’s death and my daughter’s death as a positive message.

"Every negative has a positive and you just have to find it and I found this. It might not work for everybody, but it works for me.”

View other articles written Kyle Barnett

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