Man Completes 5,000 Mile Cancer Walk

The Associated Press
Friday, November 9, 2007; 12:56 AM

KEY WEST, Fla. -- A Washington state man completed a nearly 5,000-mile cross-country walk Thursday for cancer research in memory of his late mother who died from the disease.

Grinning broadly, Matt Gregory ended his trek by touching a buoy-like monument in Key West that delineates the spot as the southernmost point in continental America.

He then jumped into the Atlantic Ocean, wearing his shoes and his backpack with a sign proclaiming "Coast to Coast Cancer Walk." He raised about $11,000 for the cause.

"I got pretty emotional _ kind of teary-eyed," said Gregory, after being sprayed with celebratory champagne by well-wishers. "It was a lot of hours of walking and a lot of people helped me out, and it's all climatic right here."

The 28-year-old Bellingham, Wash., resident began his trek Sept. 1, 2006, after quitting his job as a beverage distributor.

Money raised from the walk will go to Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center where Gregory's mother, Carolyn, had a bone marrow transplant in 1979. She died in 1999.

"She lived 20 years after the bone marrow transplant, so cancer research had a positive influence on my life," Gregory said.

He plans to write a book chronicling his journey with the hope that proceeds will help him fulfill a goal of amassing $100,000.

Along the way, a 5-year-old girl with cancer gave Gregory a $3 donation, he said. "Any time it was tough, I'd think about that and it helped me keep going," Gregory said.

During the trek, Gregory went through nine pairs of walking shoes and suffered two bouts of poison oak. When not camping, he stayed with friends and people he met _ including a Florida man who had lost his wife to cancer just a week earlier.

"I've stayed in 109 households and only 12 have been friends and family," Gregory said.


On the Net: Matt Gregory Web site:

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center:

© 2007 The Associated Press