His feet are sore and his journey is just beginning, but Richard Swanson is enjoying his stroll.
The 42-year-old Seattle man is walking and dribbling a soccer ball from his hometown to Sao Paulo, Brazil, in time for the opening match of the World Cup soccer tournament on June 12, 2014, to promote the One World Futbol Project. On Tuesday, he trekked through Cowlitz County, starting at 7 a.m. in Lexington. He planned to spend the night in Woodland.
“I felt destined that I should go on this trip,” Swanson said.
Swanson is documenting his 10,000-mile journey on social media and his website, BreakAwayBrazil.com. He said he’s staying on side roads as much as he can and dribbling the soccer ball only when it’s safe.
Swanson, a former private investigator and graphic designer, said he was between jobs and looking for an adventure when he began exploring the trip. He plans to meet with officials from San Francisco-based One World Futbol, which makes sturdier soccer balls that are well-suited for poor conditions in impoverished countries. The company donates one soccer ball for every one it sells.
Swanson picked up soccer about five years ago, and he’s been playing on club teams ever since.
“I just loved it. I can’t get enough it,” he said.
To train for the trip, Swanson said he started carrying heavy packs around to get used to the weight. He’s carrying a small sleeping bag, three pairs of shoes and other clothing. Since he started, he’s downsized some of his gear to reduce the stress on his feet.
Swanson said he plans to be walking for 407 days through 11 countries, staying the night at the homes of volunteers. He added that he’s been humbled by the gratitude of strangers, people who honk and wave and even ask for his autograph.
“A lot of people dream of doing something like this, but very few actually are able to do it. I want them to connect personally with my adventure,” he said.