We have to admire Javier Janik’s faith and courage, not to mention his stamina. Janik, a 25-year-old financial analyst from Pennsylvania, passed through Denton this week on a trip across the United States.
Traveling across America might not seem newsworthy in this day and age, until you consider that Janik is walking.
Stopping at the Denton Central Fire Station on Wednesday evening, Janik told us he would be heading to Gainesville on the next leg of his walk, which will eventually take him to California. At the time of his Denton stop, he was about halfway through the 196-day trek.
In case you’re wondering, Janik’s journey is about a lot more than exercise.
“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,” Janik told us.
Janik, who carries dual citizenship in the U.S. and Colombia, realized he needed to work on spreading a message everyone could relate to: “To love each other as one.”
He calls his trip “Walking Across America from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe” because each day of the trip represents a country in the world, and he wears a different T-shirt with a country’s flag screen-printed on it every day. (If you saw him Wednesday and wondered about the banner on his shirt, it was the Malawi flag.)
We know what you’re thinking, and you’re not alone. In fact, Janik told us his parents and most everyone he knows thought he was crazy to quit his job and walk the country.
But, so far, he hasn’t run into any dangerous situations. Since beginning his journey in November, the only trouble he has encountered was some tough slogging during a snowstorm.
He travels light — his push cart contains just a tent, a sleeping bag, food and water, books and a computer to keep him entertained, and 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.”
While he has no exact travel route, Janik said he tends to focus on the interstate highway system and swing through some of the more populated areas in hopes people will hear his message of unity.
He hopes to complete his journey by July and then eventually write a book. The people he has met on his journey all have an interesting story to tell, and he wants to share those, Janik said.
He told us his most memorable experience so far was when more than 50 people gathered to help him walk across the Mississippi Bridge.
We wish Janik Godspeed on the remainder of his journey, and we look forward to reading his book. His project is inspiring because striking out across America on foot requires a lot of trust — and so far, he said, no one has let him down.
“The love is what this is all about, the message of unity and peace,” Janik said. “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.”
You can 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.”