Javier Janik grew tired of the office job and decided to take the risk of his life.
Now he’s nearly halfway through a trek across the United States with a pushcart.
“I was just wanting to do something significant and meaningful with my life, and I realized I wasn’t doing it by sitting behind a cubicle crunching numbers all day,” said Janik, a 25-year-old financial analyst from Pennsylvania.
Janik, carrying dual citizenship in the U.S. and Colombia, realized he needed to work on spreading a message everyone could relate with: “To love each other as one.”
“I had many ideas bubbling up in my head about what to do or where to go, and walking across the U.S. was one of them, and it just stuck,” Janik said during his stop in Denton on Wednesday.
After getting a full medical exam and a doctor’s OK, Janik was ready to go start what he calls “Walking Across America from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.” It’s a 196-day trip walking across the U.S. and each of the 196 days represents a different country in the world, Janik said.
Each day, he wears a different T-shirt with a different country’s flag screen-printed on it. On Wednesday evening, he sported the Malawi flag. The shirts cost him $7 each, he said, totaling more than $1,300, which he pulled from his graduate school fund.
He said his parents and most everyone he knows thought he was crazy to quit his job and walk the country.
“I give props to my older brother, big-time,” Janik said. “He was the only one really behind me with full support the whole time.”
Since he began his journey in November, he hasn’t run into any danger, although the weather has been tricky on occasion, he said.
Janik travels fairly lightly — just a tent, sleeping bag, food and water, books and computer to keep him entertained.
“The weather has really been cooperative; I can’t complain,” he said.
So far, he has encountered hard times only about half a dozen of the 96 days.
In Alabama, he braved a snowstorm where he could barely see.
“I walked maybe seven miles in five hours. It was pretty harsh,” Janik said.
He stays at firehouses overnight whenever possible.
“They all have really welcomed me and made me feel at home,” Janik said. “It shows the message I am trying to send: that we are all different yet unique and able to help each other as a whole.”
Stopping at the Denton Central Fire Station on Wednesday evening, Janik said he is looking to be in Gainesville today.
“I’m looking forward to my 98th day. … I’ll be halfway complete with my journey then,” Janik said. “I’ll have reached a milestone then.”
While he has no exact travel route, he said he tends to focus on the interstate highway system and swing through some of the more populated areas in hopes people hear his message of unity.
“My most memorable experience so far was when about 50 to 100 people gathered to help me walk across the Mississippi Bridge,” Janik said. “That was a huge example to me of people coming together for a cause.”
Janik said he hopes to complete his journey by July and then eventually write a book about his journey, along with detailed research about each of the 196 countries he represented along the way.
“People all over have an interesting story to tell and I want to share them,” he said.
“The love is what this is all about, the message of unity and peace. It’s a blessing I am seeing done by strangers daily, and I am eternally grateful to each and every person who’s helped out along my path thus far.”
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
ON THE WEB
Follow Javier Janik on his travels across the U.S. on Twitter@Walking4Love and on Facebook by liking the page “Walking Across America from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.”