How I met Alan Slater, who has walked across the US for 7 months for cancer research


Have you ever had a Jerry Maguire moment in life when you realize that things need to change and that you’re the only one holding yourself back? I wanted to take a break from our regularly scheduled programming to tell the story of an inspirational guy I met yesterday. Just talking to him for an hour changed my perspective and got me thinking about what is meaningful. Admittedly he was British and hot, that definitely got me to pull over and pay attention. He has an amazing story, and it’s one I wanted to share here and maybe help his cause.

Alan Slater has been walking alone across the United States for the past seven months. I met him walking down the road in my state of Virginia, and he explained to me that he’s “almost done” with his trip from San Francisco to New York City, even though he has about another month to go. He walks about eight hours a day at around 3 miles an hour, covering roughly 25 miles a day. His website is AlanWalksAmerica.com, where he chronicles his journey and raises money for cancer research. (The entries are a few weeks behind as he updates them when he is able to get to a computer, and is trying to go in order. He does have a phone with him.) He does not take rides from anyone at all, and he didn’t let me drive him anywhere even before he knew I was a “journalist.” He does accept lodging from people and he said that he has been so touched by how kind and open everyone has been to him. He’s impressed with America and with how courteous and nice we are. He told me he’s had about three run-ins with “rude” people whom he wouldn’t want to meet again, but it didn’t sound like his safety has been threatened at all.

I took Alan out to eat at a local diner along his route. Alan, who turns 26 this week, explained that he finished his university degree in physical activity, exercise and health three years ago in the UK. He traveled around the world after college, trying to figure out what he wanted to do. He said that he was wary of getting in a rut and not stopping to examine his life or career path. After his grandfather was sick and passed away from cancer in February of last year, Alan decided to embark on a journey that would both raise money for cancer research and help push him out of his comfort zone. He compared it to an Aboriginal walkabout, adding that we all “need to be put on the other side of things and see it from another perspective.”

The first two months were incredibly hard for Alan. He felt understandably anxious when he first set out and he lost weight, was in physical pain and had to deal with blisters on his feet as he navigated the very barren west. Now, camping out on the side of the road and walking every day are routine to him. He said that he sees it as a job and that it’s taught him that anything is possible when you set your mind to it. He didn’t consider his journey extraordinary or inspirational at all, and the things he told me about what he’s learned along the way were both simple and profound. These are concepts I’ve read and thought of about countless times, but it meant so much more coming from someone who has lived it. I will remember meeting this guy for the rest of my life. Here’s some of what he told me about his journey and about what it meant to him.

Anyone can do this, it just takes getting past the anxiety at first…

Somehow when you picture adventures… like climbing Everest, you think every minute is going to be agony, you’re going to be in miserable.

In reality a lot of it is quite arduous and boring, not a lot happens all the time. Hence this is kind of like my job… it doesn’t seem like an adventure when you do it every day.

We all need to go on a walkabout in life and be put on the other of things and see it from another perspective.

There is this big fallacy that people are born with adventurous genes.

I really do believe everyone is just equal, and if you really want to go on an amazing adventure, just go for it.

Anything is possible these days, I’m just an average guy so if I can do it anyone can.

This trip has taught me to push in my anxiety and don’t be comfortable. It’s the same in life, with [going outside your comfort zone] comes freedom. I want to do something more rewarding than just accepting my lot in life. I want to keep pushing myself to find what makes me happy…

You can do anything, I truly believe, you have to just be persistent.

Alan said that when he reaches the end of the trip he’ll be returning to see his family in England. His journey honoring his grandfather has ultimately taught him how much his family and friends mean to him. He also joked that he’s looking forward to taking a nice bath and having a break from walking every day.

I hope that if I take away anything from meeting Alan it’s that we’re capable of great things in life, and that there’s no reason not to start our own journey toward our goals. You can learn more about Alan’s trip, and help out his cause of cancer research on AlanWalksAmerica.com. (Note that donations are in British pounds, which are roughly 1.6 US dollars.)

Update: Here are some additional articles about Alan’s journey:
February 21: Greenville, TN, Greenville Sun
December 27: Tahlequah, OK, Tahlequah Daily Press
December 7: Woodward, OK, Woodward News
November 30: Guymon, OK, Guymon Daily Herald
September 4: Placerville, CA, Mountain Democrat
August 31: Rio Vista , CA River News Herald

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56 Responses to “How I met Alan Slater, who has walked across the US for 7 months for cancer research”

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  1. Sasha says:

    Aww, he looks like a lovely guy! How lucky to have met him by chance!

  2. Jessica says:

    That’s pretty amazing. Great post. I’m going to go check out his site now.

  3. carrie says:

    i prefer to read his story than another gossip on Trashdashian or Lean R or another “only famous for his fame”
    great story!

  4. SallyJay says:

    Thank you for covering this Kaiser, what a great story of a wonderful, inspirational man!
    Off topic, I am moving to Virginia from the UK in a little over 3 months! I didn’t realise that is where you’re writing from, that is awesome. Anything I should be forewarned about?!

    • Celebitchy says:

      Kaiser lives in VA too Sally not too far from me, but it’s me covering this! Send me an email at info-at-celebitchy.com and I’ll let you know anything about our state! We may be far from where you’re going to move though.

      • SallyJay says:

        Hi CB, I just realised it was you who wrote it, I’m so sorry! it’s a really wonderful story, what a guy.
        I will email, thank you so much!

    • Naye in VA says:

      thats pretty cool. what part of VA cuz thats where i’m at. And is the eastermost tip his stopping point or is he headed north?

      • Celebitchy says:

        I’m in North Western Virginia and the last I knew he was headed north on Route 11.

      • Rachel says:

        Oh!!! I’m in the eastern panhandle of WV. If he stays on 11N, he’ll come through here (my parents live right on Rt 11!). I’ll have to tell everyone to keep their eyes open. Great story CB!

  5. Bc says:

    Thanks for posting!

  6. cmc says:

    This is incredible. Thank you for posting about this man, CB. I think it would be amazing if you could make this a regular (weekly?) thing- spotlights on regular people doing amazing things. Such a palate cleanser after a daily goss diet of Leann, KimK, and Lindsay Lohan.

    • islandwalker says:

      Very inspirational story CB, thank you for sharing his journey with us. I’d love to see stories like this get more attention. A weekly installment would be a nice change of pace from the celebrity cess-pool. Just goes to show that you don’t have to fly to Haiti with your entourage, make-up people and camera crew to quietly make the world a better place. Safe travels Alan.

    • launicaangelina says:

      I totally agree! It would be a nice reminder that there are everyday people in this world making a real difference.

  7. Girl says:

    Fabulous story. Thanks for writing about it.

  8. constant says:

    This post is really a lovely surprise, and to me it is a reminder of how mind-expanding an encounter with some people can be…

  9. JM says:

    Thank you for this inspirational post. It’s always nice to see how normal everyday people can make a huge difference. I cosign with the poster above who requested a weekly piece in which ordinary individuals do something extraordinary.

  10. Holden says:

    And so I ran, and I kept running…

  11. Becky says:

    Love it. First story I clicked on today when I visited CB… thanks for sharing.

  12. Rose says:

    THis is a really great story and I’d be happy to read more like it too. However, i’d love to believe that ‘anyone can do this’ but I have bills and a job and I couldn’t just drop it all for a year, even when I graduated i couldn’t afford to take a gap year as needed to start earning money straight away. It’s still very inspiring to read though and maybe I could reach for mini goals within the perimeters that life seems to have set for me.

  13. Agnes says:

    awesome story, great post! thank you!!!

  14. aenflex says:

    ~LIKE~

  15. Mari says:

    Wow, thanks so much for posting this. I am both inspired and jealous, for lack of a better word, that he had the courage to do this.

  16. Aim says:

    I love that y’all cover stories like this. What an amazing guy (and so cute). Thank you for sharing!

  17. Tiffany says:

    I am glad that there are people who restore my faith. I have a great neighbor who does work with the homeless. Just extraordinary stuff.Yeah, people are just awesome.

  18. DavidBowie says:

    Great and inspirational story.

  19. lucy2 says:

    What a great story. I love when ordinary people do extraordinary things, and others actually pay attention. Good luck to him!

  20. Charlotte says:

    What a nice guy :)

  21. j says:

    Thank you for posting this. I love the trashy stuff too, but wouldn’t it be awesome to see a “tabloid” featuring stories of courageous, thoughtful, generous people like this?

  22. Samigirl says:

    This man is an inspiration! THIS is someone I want my children to look up to. Hopefully when he gets a little older, we have more “celebrities” like this, than that of Kim K and those of the like.

  23. deb says:

    AMAZING!
    I hope Alan continues to inspire people every step of the way.

  24. moonriver says:

    What an amazingly sweet guy. And he seems so interesting. Its so cool that you talked to him celebitchy! So many people are scared to talk with ‘strangers’ or assume that people doing things like this are ‘lying.’ But then again you’re a writer and its what you do, and i’m so happy I read this today.

  25. laura says:

    What a great story! Thanks for sharing this. I wonder if he’ll make it through my neck of the woods (Baltimore) I’d totally take him out to dinner!

  26. Dhavy says:

    Thank you for this story. I lost my father to lung cancer about 1 1/2 yr ago and stories like these always make me believe that sometimes the smallest causes being out the biggest rewards. People like Alan are what always bring hope to cancer victims.

  27. the other mel says:

    Thanks so much for this inspiring post!

  28. thatsh*tcray says:

    I met someone doing that out here in the California desert.. He was 1 day away from the end in LA. Inspiring!

  29. some bitch says:

    Fantastic post. Very inspiring guy! (:

  30. Fifthpocket says:

    HOOOOOOTTTTT!

  31. Catherine says:

    What a great guy! This is a really inspiring story and it really belittles everything else. Thank you for sharing this with us and getting us to think about bigger things.

  32. leetruth says:

    Love people like these who are selfless and pure of heart. This site has done all the commenters proud with this story: we can be serious too.

  33. I Choose Me says:

    Wonderful story. So great to know that there are people like Alan out there. I too wouldn’t mind a daily post about ordinary people doing extradordinary things.

  34. Violet says:

    Very inspiring! So wonderful to see ordinary people doing something extraordinary for the greater good.

    You’re an amazing guy, Alan!

  35. Mairead says:

    Awww nice one CB! Thanks for covering this and for interviewing Alan. As others have said, it makes such a lovely change to the vapid morons that are given preeminence in the “meedja”.

    It’s a brilliant cause, because cancer is such a wide-ranging condition and research will make the long-term management of it a reality.

  36. Jen34 says:

    I’m sure that everyone has been touched by cancer. It is a great thing he is doing.

  37. phlyfiremama says:

    Awesome story~more of this kind of stuff please! Seeing as how you are a Journalist and all (no quotation marks needed ’round here!)

  38. Zoe says:

    Thanks for sharing this life changing adventure. Maybe feature more great stories like this one in the future.

  39. Mouse says:

    This reminds me of The Alchemist. This was a nice post to read

  40. Mika says:

    Walking? With two legs? Across a country smaller than Canada?? Terry Fox is still the motherf**king champ.

    Hahaa… no. I’m just kidding. This guy seems awesome, I appreciate the substantial post, and wish him all the best.

  41. Becks says:

    This brought a tear to my eye…
    what a great inspiration this young man is. Thanks for posting this story.

  42. skuddles says:

    What a lovely story and a very worthy cause ♥ Go cute-young-Brit-fellow with the big heart….. godspeed!

  43. Geekychic says:

    Vow. Just Vow. And kudos to this site for posting this story, being site about superficial gossip ( i love it as much as anyone coming here, Don’t Get me wrong!).

  44. Heather M (Heather) says:

    Aw, I love that you posted this! What I would do to rid the world of cancer, but I can’t imagine doing something as amazing as this! What a stud! We should all donate!!!

  45. Heather M (Heather) says:

    PS I hope he’s wearing sunscreen to protect himself from skin cancer!!!

  46. MissyA says:

    That’s such an inspiring story. Do you mind if I link it to mountainproject.com?

  47. Jane says:

    That’s absolutely incredible! You go Alan!

  48. claire slater says:

    Hi everyone, I am Alans sister and i would just like to thank everyone for your kind thoughts and support, im looking forward to having my little brother back in the near future :-)