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“To mend the broken heart while it is yet beating"


Well-known traveler Steve Fugate, a native of Florida, visited Bolivar last week while on his ninth walk across the United States, having already covered over 49,000 miles of walking.

After losing his son to suicide and his daughter to an overdose, Fugate, now 77 years old, decided he wanted no other parent facing the horror he faced. The battles in his personal life led to his decision to walk across America, carrying with him the message to “Love Life.”

Fugate feels that “Love Life” is a lesson in finding perspective in life.

“If I can still love life, most anyone can,” Fugate said. “Everyone has the ability to love life and have happiness most of the time, once they see the foolishness of negatives and deny them admittance into their minds — during all of human existence negatives have never accomplished anything.”

This mentality of positivity has inspired Fugate’s thousands of social media followers across the nation, with numerous people reaching out to him to let him know that his message has saved lives.

His ninth trip began on Feb. 11, 2023 starting at YeeHaw Junction, Florida. Setting out for Newport, Oregon, Fugate remains unsure of when he will reach his destination due to many variables.

Averaging about 15 to 20 miles per day, he plans to take Mo. 13 into Kansas and diverge onto other routes as he continues trekking northwest.

Fugate said he enjoyed his first visit to Bolivar, noting that a Polk County deputy paid him a visit on the morning of Wednesday, July 12, to offer assistance to the traveler.

“The citizens of Bolivar have treated me wonderfully,” Fugate shared. “I stayed two nights at the Best Western and everyone was very nice.”

The warm welcome of Bolivar was a pleasant contrast to some of the brutal conditions that Fugate has faced over the years. Throughout his travels, he has faced a snow storm in the Cascades, the worst ice storm in Tulsa’s history, two hurricanes and many severe hail storms.

“The most extreme weather was 113 degrees in Utah and -22 in New England,” said Fugate.

Making the best out of every situation, Fugate was even able to find the positive amidst the pitfalls of COVID-19 , saying that his journey during the pandemic “wasn’t bad at all” and just required him to keep his facemask and disinfectant handy.

Journeying across the U.S. has had its perks, as Fugate has been able to experience idyllic scenery and welcoming courtesies from the various places he has traversed.

“My two favorite states are Florida and Maine for their beauty,” stated Fugate. “For friendliness, all of the South; however, every state has treated me great!”

Being noticed by passersby has given attention to his cause, allowing him to open up and share his experiences with others.

“Every interaction is different, for we all are uniquely different, one from the other,” Fugate explained. “There are no one-size-fits-all remedies; life does not do group therapy.”

Fostering his mission, Fugate has learned that most people are good and that everyone craves love.

“When we get ourselves out of the way so that others can feel our love, hearts open up to you,” he said.

So what motivates the 77-year-old to keep walking miles and miles every day year after year? His response was, “Knowing that I have the honor of helping others to see past the darkness.”

Fugate’s travel expenses are funded from the profits of his book LOVE LIFE Walk, which is available for purchase on Amazon.