WALLA WALLA, Wash. – Noah Barnes is one determined 11-year-old. Thus far, the Fort Lauderdale, Florida resident had racked up at least 3,200 miles when he reached Pendleton, en route to the finish line in Blaine, Washington. His journey started on Jan. 1 in Key West Florida, and he expects to cover approximately 4,000 miles by Dec. 9.
Over a 342-day span, that’s an average of 11.69 miles per day in all kinds of weather, including snow when he passed through the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest that includes the Blue and Wallowa mountain ranges.
The trek is purpose-driven. Diagnosed at 16 months with type 1 diabetes, he’s lived with insulin shots most of his life, according to a release.
After watching the “Into the Wind” documentary about Canadian athlete Terry Fox, Noah was inspired to walk across the nation to raise awareness for type 1 diabetes. Before he became terminally ill with cancer, Terry ran partway across Canada in 1980 with one leg amputated in a “Marathon of Hope” to raise money and awareness for cancer research.
Noah convinced his family to accompany him and fundraise for research to eradicate the diabetes he contends with daily.
The 501(c)(3) nonprofit Noah’s March Foundation supports his efforts, along with help from his parents, Robert and Joanne Barnes, who sold their Florida home to help fund the trip.
“Noah will be the youngest person to cross America since they have been recording crossings from 1909,” his mother said.
Noah is a typical kid who likes Legos, Minecraft, vanilla ice cream and his English bull terrier puppy Rex.
He’s particularly interested in World War II history.
“I really like studying the tanks, ships and airplanes. When I grow up, I want to be an engineer and design super cool weapons for the U.S. government.”
He found an article about a diabetes walk fundraiser and asked his dad, “How far do I need to walk so that I can be cured?”
Ten percent of the American population or 30 million people are affected by diabetes, Joanna Barnes said. If not cured by 2050, American Diabetes Association predicts over 100 million Americans will have diabetes (33 percent of the U.S. population).
The goal for the Barnes family and foundation is to make the millions of American type 1 diabetics and their families completely aware of where research is on the path for a cure and direct more effort and resources to support them.