Former student walks across America
Alan Slater returned to the UK last month following his epic 234 day trek across America. Covering 10 states, and walking an average of 20 miles per day, he was inspired to take on the adventure in memory of his late grandfather, who survived cancer.
The 25-year-old, who spent most nights during his journey sleeping in his tent by the roadside, has to date raised more than £3,000 for the charity.
"I began my trip on August 17, last year," he said. "I just carried my rucksack and a sign on my back which stated who I was, what I was doing and what I was fundraising for. The sign made people curious enough to want to know more and a lot would stop and chat to me. More than 30 families opened their homes to me during my travels and I met some amazing people."
Alan, who walked through Arizona, Arkansas, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and New York, graduated from his degree in Physical Activity, Exercise and Health at Leeds Metropolitan University in 2007. He then went travelling in Thailand, Lao, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia - ending up in Sydney, Australia where he lived for 18 months before embarking on his American adventure.
The idea for the trip first came to him after meeting an American woman, Danielle Koffler while travelling in Asia.
"Danielle told me that a lot of people do marathon bike rides across the US for charity," said Alan. "I'm not a cyclist but what she said stuck with me. My grandfather passed when I was working in Sydney in February 2011. Although he died from other causes, he had previously survived prostate cancer and was very interested in cancer research. That's why I decided to do the walk for Cancer Research UK in his honour."
In reference to his trip Alan said he was surprised by the variety he found in America. "Every state I passed through during the trip was like a whole different country to the one before it," he commented. "The people were different, the weather was different, the culture felt different - every state brought a new experience. The kindness of strangers during my travels was unbelievable. Once people got chatting to me so many wanted to help me either by donating to Cancer Research UK or by inviting me into their home to make me a meal and give me a bed for the night.
"Some days things were difficult either through exhaustion or due to the terrible blisters I had - but never once did I ever consider giving up. I knew there was only one place my expedition would end and that was New York."