So they packed their bags and left their home on the coast of Maryland for a six-month journey across the country.
A month of walking brought them through Johnson City and Jonesborough this week, and Thursday afternoon found the pair resting in the shade of a tree off U.S. Highway 11E ahead of their next destination at Rheatown, 10 miles outside of Greeneville.
So far, 500 miles have seen them through worn shoes, plenty of stories and a lot of new friends ... and still a long way to go.
Bidwell and Miljevic have been friends since high school, and decided one night that they wanted to do something big and help anyone they can along the way. So they packed up and began the journey on June 14. They expect to arrive at the finish line at the end of the year.
“Now we get to go out and see what more the world has to offer,” Miljevic said. “We’re not rich, but we’ve always been provided for, so we don’t have much to complain about. We’re rich in life.”
The duo set out on their trek to help raise money and awareness for the Christopher Reeve Foundation, an organization dedicated to funding research into spinal injuries and improving the quality of life for people with paralysis. Miljevic’s stepmother was injured while serving in the Air Force 24 years ago and is a quadriplegic, which inspired him and Bidwell to walk the walk to raise money for the foundation.
“When you get injured like that, it doesn’t just affect you, it affects the whole family and everybody around you,” Miljevic said. “So this (organization), they do research, they do research, they do therapy, anything to make their lives better.”
So far, the duo has visited a few cities like Washington, D.C., Roanoke and Baltimore, and took some off-the-road adventures like visiting the Devil’s Bathtub outside of Duffield, VA, and a hiker’s hostel, where they said they learned some tips from seasoned hikers.
They visited a friend in Bristol after that, then headed down to Johnson City, where they enjoyed pizza at Luke’s Pizza and sang karaoke.
Miljevic said they average about 20 to 30 miles a day, and his father has set up a few supply drop-off points to prepare them for some of the other challenges of their journey, like cold desert nights.
In addition to spreading awareness about the Christopher Reeve Foundation, Miljevic said he hoped the journey would bring them closer to people across the country. For anyone who doesn’t chance upon them as they make their way to Southern California, both of them keep the social media world updated on their travels through their Facebook page and on their Snapchat handles: peteskeet24 and liltwizzo.
In addition to first aid kits, a water filtration system, a tarp and sleeping bags, battery chargers are also part of their gear so they can document their journey for anyone to follow as they zig-zag their way across the U.S.
While their finish line for this walk is about six months out, the pair say that that’s not the end of their journey. They’ll take a break once they arrive at Long Beach, then begin the journey back to their home in northern Maryland for the Wounded Warrior Project, this time coasting along the southern United States.
“We’re trying to make this interactive, and share as much as we can with people,” Miljevic said. “We’re trying to hit every monumental spot on the way so that people will get to see everything that happens. We’re not just two dudes on a walk.”
Follow the pair on Facebook at their page “From Cecil To California: The Christopher Reeves Foundation Adventure,” or on Snapchat at peteskeet24 and liltwizzo. Donate to the foundation at christopherreeve.org or on the duo’s GoFundMe page.
Email Jessica Fuller at [email protected] Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.