Real-Life Forest Gump Walks 34,000 Miles in 14 Years Spreading a Simple but Powerful Message

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14 years ago, Steve Fugate took it upon himself to walk across America, as therapy after losing his son. Since then, he has achieved his goal 6 times, and is currently on his seventh attempt. Through his extraordinary journey, he hopes to spread just one simple message – ‘Love Life’. He started his latest walk on March 23, last year and is still going strong. He has already passed through 21 states and has 27 more to go. “My feet swell, my knees hurt, my legs hurt. I do not like walking. But I do it specifically for a reason,” he said. It’s estimated 67-year-old Steve has walked over 34,000 kilometers since he first set out on his legendary treks.

Fugate, a native of Florida, had never really been a fan of walking, but he found it to be a great way to spread love after he lost his children. 1999 was a particularly tough year for him. He was going through a failed marriage and his business had taken a hit. To make matters worse, his son Stevie, 26, was convicted of drunk driving. It was all getting a bit too much to handle, so Fugate decided to go trekking on the 2,167 mile Appalachian Trail, leaving his son in charge of the business.

Unfortunately, young Stevie was also dealing with several serious issues at the time and committed suicide. Fugate received the tragic news as he was trekking through Pennsylvania. “When he put a gun to his mouth and pulled the trigger, he ended my life too,” said the heartbroken father. After a brief period of grieving, he made up his mind to finish the trek. This turned out to be a life-altering decision. “When I was out there, something happened to me. I couldn’t imagine any other human being going through what I did. It’ll change your whole life.”

Steve-Fugate

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Meet Erik Weihenmayer, the World’s Most Accomplished Blind Adventurer

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Erik Weihenmayer became blind at age 13, but he has never let this life-altering event limit him in any way. He is one of those rare individuals who have not just managed to overcome a disability, but live like it never happened. He is also the only blind person in the world to have scaled Mount Everest, among other achievements.

At age 44, Erik is the world’s most accomplished blind adventurer. To be honest, his accomplishments are on par with any other exceptional normal person. He is a role model even for people with normal vision. He has managed to completely disregard his blindness; it’s like he’s been everywhere and done everything. Mountaineering, wrestling, cycling, skiing, kayaking, paragliding, skydiving – the list of Erik’s activities are seemingly endless.

When he was younger, Erik focused on just one sport – wrestling – and he was brilliant at it. He represented his state in the US National Freestyle Wrestling Championships. He graduated college in 1993 with a Master’s degree and soon became a school teacher. This was when he took up rock climbing and trekking on the side. He was amazing at that too – he summited Mount McKinley (the tallest peak in the US) and then Kilimanjaro (tallest in Africa).

Erik-Weihenmayer

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64-Year-Old Ripped Grandfather Proves It’s Never Too Late to Get Fit

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Robert – a grandfather from Kentucky, is living proof that it’s never too late to start exercising and get fit. He started working out intensely at the age of 56 when he was overweight and unable to walk without a cane. Now, he’s got amazingly toned muscles and and is in the best shape of his life.

“At 56 years old, I was overweight, couldn’t really walk, had braces and was walking on canes and walkers. I wasn’t really happy with my life and the way things was going,” Robert explains. He decided to change all of this so he joined a gym despite everyone being very skeptical of his abilities. The man was very determined to prove everyone wrong and went to the gym regularly. But it wasn’t until he discovered a group of training enthusiasts on YouTube – who exercise anywhere, without using any kind of specialized equipment – that his passion for training really took off. “I discovered calisthenics watching BarStarzz on YouTube about a year and a half ago and I decided I would give it a whirl and fell in love with it,” the ripped grandfather says. This type of exercise can be done anywhere and is incredibly good for improving flexibility and strength.

Fit-Robert2

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Retired Barber Gives Homeless People Haircuts in Exchange for Hugs

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Although some of us refuse to believe it, we live in a mean, cutthroat world. Luckily there are still some genuine good Samaritans out there, and Anthony Cymerys is definitely one of them. For the last 25 years, the man known as Joe the Barber has been offering homeless people in Hartford, Connecticut haircuts in exchange for hugs.

Anthony Cymerys started offering his barber services to those less fortunate in 1988, after hearing a sermon about the homeless. He had just retired and was only cutting hair for family, but those inspiring words he had heard in church made him decided he didn’t want the homeless looking like homeless anymore. So he prepared his tools, put them in the car and started driving around town looking for people in need of his services. In the beginning, he helped people in shelters and convalescent homes, then he cut hair in downtown YMCA for years, before moving to the carousel near Bushnell Park. Every Wednesday, the wooden benches on the Elm Street side of the park are packed with homeless people waiting for a relaxing haircut, shave and facial massage from the 82-year-old Joe.

Joe-the-Barber

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Dashrath Manjhi – The Man Who Moved a Mountain

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Dasrath Manjhi, a landless farmer from India, made history after he spent over two decades chiseling away at a mountain with rudimentary tools, in order to create a road for his community, when the Government refused to.

If you’re looking for some motivation, stories don’t get much more inspirational than that of Dasrath Manjhi. 53 years ago, he set out to carve a 1mk-long path through a rocky hillside, all by himself, in order to make it easier for his fellow villagers to access schools, markets and neighboring villagers. “This hill had given us trouble and grief for centuries. The people had asked the government many times to make a proper road through the hill, but nobody paid any attention. So I just decided I would do it all by myself,” Manjhi told Indian newspaper Tehelka, in 2007, a shortly before succumbing to the cancer that was plaguing him.  With just his chisel, hammer and shovel, this legendary man turned what was once a precarious one-foot-wide passage into a 360ft-long, 30ft-wide road accessible by bicycle and motorcycle. The hill kept the region’s villages in isolation, forcing people to trek through dangerous terrain for hours just to reach their lands or the nearest market town. Children had to walk eight kilometers to reach school, but thanks to Dasrath Manjhi’s handmade road, that distance has been reduced to three kilometers, and people from over 60 villages now use it every day.

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Woman Hasn’t Used Money in 15 Years

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Heidemarie Schwermer, a 69-year-old woman from Germany, gave up using money 15 years ago and says she’s been much happier ever since.

Heidemarie’s incredible story began 22 years ago, when she, a middle-aged secondary school teacher emerging from a difficult marriage, took her two children and moved to the city of Dortmund, in Germany’s Ruhr area. One of the first things she noticed was the large number of homeless people, and this shocked her so much that she decided to actually do something about it. She had always believed the homeless didn’t need actual money to be accepted back into society, only a chance to empower themselves by making themselves useful, so she opened a Tauschring (swap shop), called “Gib und Nimm” (Give and Take).

Her small venture was a place where anyone could trade stuff and skills for other things and skills they needed, without a single coin or banknote changing hands. Old clothes could be traded in return for kitchen appliances, and car service rendered in return for plumbing services, and so on. The idea didn’t really attract many of Dortmund’s homeless, because, as some of them told her to her face, they didn’t feel an educated middle-class woman could relate to their situation. Instead, her small shop was assaulted by many of the city’s unemployed and retired folk eager to trade their skills and old stuff for something they needed. Heidemarie Schwermer’s Tauschring eventually became somewhat of a phenomenon in Dortmund and even prompted its creator to ask herself some questions about the life she was living.

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Inspiring Iranian Artist Paints with Her Feet

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Zohreh Etezad Saltaneh is a 49-year-old Iranian artist born with a birth defect that affected the growth of her arms, who manages to paint, weave and do house chores with her feet.

Born in 1962, Zohreh struggled with her condition at first, but says she owes everything she has achieved to her parents, who “brought me up in such a way that I have become self-reliant.“ Chores that once seemed impossible to do with only her feet gradually became easier and, although things like shopping are still a bit challenging, she can now do some things even better than normal people. It has taken her over four decades but “now I have come to terms with this issue. Sometimes when I’m working, I don’t necessarily think ‘these’ are my feet, or that I don’t actually have any hands.”

Zohreh remembers her mother put the paint brush between her toes at a very young age and encouraged to express herself in an artistic way. But not even her mother could have foreseen Zoreh’s success in the artworld – she has received numerous awards and her paintings have been showcased in over 60 national and international exhibitions. She is a member of the International Association of Painters and is currently studying for a masters in psychology. “My slogan has always been: ‘being disabled does not mean being restricted’,” she says, and her life achievement stand as proof.

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