I named my cart after a brilliant young girl named Emily. I met Emily at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha where I had set up a BTM table at the exit of the cafeteria (which I is the best place ever to have a bone marrow drive.) Emily, her younger sister and I spent an hour or more together, singing, interviewing and running around the cafeteria. Just two days later meeting Emily, I received a message from
her mom, Erin, that Emily was in the hospital and unresponsive. I decided to take the next day off and take an Uber back to Omaha to visit her in Children's Hospital and say a final goodbye. The doctors aren't sure what is wrong and I'm still waiting for an update. I really hope she wakes up and gets back to her playful self soon! She has made a huge impact on my trip and made me realize the vulnerability of young cancer patients and reminded me of the reason I am walking. Emily's family, the Koesters, offered Shane and I to stay at their home, which was right on route 6, on our way to Lincoln. We spent the evening in their swimming pool, ate well and tried to take Joe's (Emily's father) mind off of it all for a bit. It was great to meet her family, to see Emily's room, family pictures and do a bit of filming. Please pray for Emily. You can visit her blog at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/emilykoesters.
In Omaha, I met up with another young man who not only looks like my twin, but who is also walking/hitchhiking across the country. He is one funny dude and we are good traveling/walking partners. We plan on walking to Denver together and possibly continuing on together to California. Shane is filming a documentary of his own and it's great that we can help film each other. Shane started in Savannah, Georgia and is twenty-four years old. He is a sit-down comedian full of dry humor (just a warning in case you meet him). Shane is not walking for a cause, he just wanted to make a film about the experience compiling interviews and music from street musicians along his adventure.
Just before reaching Omaha, I met John and Everett, two guys that are each running about a marathon everyday to raise awareness for pediatric cancer. Only 4% of money raised for cancer research goes towards kids with cancer and they are on a mission to change that! I stayed a night on their awesome yellow tour bus. While they are philanthropic runners, I guess you could say I am a philanthropic walker. I went to the Nebraska Medical Center where children with cancer boarded the RV and received gifts from the guys. I was invited to stay at the hospital that afternoon to set up a table to register people to the BeTheMatch bone marrow registry. Twenty-five people swabbed their cheeks and are potential life savers!
Great things have been happening everyday and I'm looking forward to getting through Nebraska and exploring the great American West. Update: Emily has woken up and although she lost movement on one side and does not have full speech capabilities. Let's continue to pray and send good energy to Emily and her family and hope the physical therapy gets Emily back to her normal self.