The Elk Citian full version

Across America
–One man’s journey to end MS takes him through Elk City

Dale Denwalt
Daily Elk Citian

Stephen Homsey walks swiftly along Interstate 40, pushing his three-wheeler cart and only stopping for a drink of water, a night or two of rest and the occasional media interview.

He’s been on the road four months now since leaving his home near Boston, and is trekking on foot across America. He expects to reach San Diego in November. His cause: Promoting research and funding to find a cure for multiple sclerosis.

Just two years ago Homsey broke his heels, an ankle, his wrist and his back in a 40-foot fall, leaving him immobile for two months and unable to walk for six. Now as he plods along on the ultimate scenic route, his focus is on those who often struggle with everyday routines.

DAILY STRUGGLE

“One minute you can live your life to unlimited potential and the next, they have their attacks or symptoms, and mine was the accident,” he said during a short stop two miles outside Elk City. “From that moment on, you’re limited in what you can do in your daily activities. Thankfully, mine was temporary but they don’t really have a choice in how or why it happens.”

Homsey stayed in Elk City last night, resting until he sets out for the next 1,200 or so miles. He stayed in a Clinton fire station Sunday night and will stop in Erick next.

The 26-year-old college graduate said with being so far, for so long away from home, some days are worse than others.

“You get some days when you’re homesick and some days you can deal with it. It just depends on how the day goes, I guess,” said Homsey. “And that’s kind of the idea that it’s not easy; there’s no easy way out, and individuals who live with MS have no easy way out of their daily life, so it’s in honor of that.”

PERSEVERANCE

He has not quit, though. Even through the searing southern heat and blisters on his feet, he keeps walking, sometimes 37 miles in one day.

“You definitely get close (to quitting). I have. But you have to reflect on it, that I actually have the ability to be out here in Oklahoma,” said Homsey. “I walked from Boston to Oklahoma. You’ve got to reflect on what you’re actually doing, where you are and what you’re able to do.”

His journey so far has been solo, although his parents expect to join him as he walks through the deserts and tough terrain of New Mexico and Arizona. He said they call him several times a day since he left Massachusetts, and he also keeps in touch with friends back home.

Homsey sounds optimistic as he looks forward to the final half of his walk. With half of a country behind him, the trip, at least metaphorically, is all downhill from here.

“In the idea of days and miles, it’s all on the final stretch. But then you think, well, I’m going through Oklahoma, it’s been over 100 [degrees] for sixty days, they’re in a severe drought and it’s only going to get drier,” said Homsey. “As far as that, it’s all uphill.”

GOLDEN RULE

Along the way Homsey has seen the kindness of strangers. He sometimes sleeps under the stars, but like his time in western Oklahoma, locals have pitched in to help. St. Matthew’s Catholic Church paid for a hotel room in Elk City so he could sleep comfortably. Homsey said he did not expect to see such an outpouring of support.

“I’ve seen more goodwill that I’ve seen people being jerks,” he said. “I thought I was going to come out here – it’s America, everyone’s selfish and doesn’t care. I thought I was going to see a lot of that but you’d be surprised by who gives.”

Homsey hopes to release a documentary about multiple sclerosis and the difficulties doctors and patients go through in finding relief from the disease, which affects mental and physical abilities. Science has yet to find a cure.

TRACKING STEPHEN

Homsey has a website where the public can track him as he walks across the United States. Visit www.Steps4MS.org, where you can also donate to his cause.