IN Peters Township October/November 2018 - Page 43

P eters Township native Stefan Boyd Wisinski is a modern-day nomad. “I travel full time—11½ months out of the year,” he says. “My travels are extensive and I’ve been on the move since 2014.” Wisinski has been to 93 countries and six continents. He has seen five of the seven “wonders of the world,” walking across Spain twice and through parts of the Himalayas twice as well. Over the summer, Wisinski set his sights on a new journey— one with a special purpose, very meaningful and close to home for the traveler. “Recently, my old roommate committed suicide,” he explains. “I wanted to do something in his honor, to help raise awareness about suicide prevention. I also wanted to provide hope to people by showing them nothing is impossible, even if you’re alone.” He decided that he would walk the length of an entire country to do this. He chose Portugal to honor his roomate. “I have not spent much time in the country,” he says. “My roommate was from Brazil, but he was Portuguese so I thought it was a good connection.” Wisinski took to a crowdfunding platform, GoFundMe, with the hopes of raising $10,000 to be donated toward two nonprofits: the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. Benefactors had the ability to choose which of those two efforts their donations would assist. He began his journey on July 25 at the southernmost point, near a town called Faro, and walked the entirety of the country into Spain, with his final destination being Santiago de Compostela, and then continuing on to the coastal town of Fisterra—translated “the end of the world.” He provided social media updates to his followers along the journey. “The biggest struggles were finding food, water and places to sleep,” he recalls, explaining that he was forced to camp illegally a few times and take bucket showers in a park. “Overall, the locals were kind to me—many offering me food and beer, or a place to shower. They all thought I was crazy for walking across the country during a heat wave, where temperatures reaches as high as 118 degrees.” One local in particular was special to Wisinski. “I had a very nice woman take care of me for two days in a small town, so I could continue to walk,” he explains. “We ran into each other once after I left, nearly 100km from where she lives. She was driving by and saw me. She stopped, got out of her car, hugged and kissed me and told me to take care and have a good journey—all in Portuguese. She also only wanted me to call her ‘Mama.’ She was a legend.” Wisinski did his best to return favors and help locals during his journey as well. He helped get a van unstuck, assisted in getting a goat’s head removed from a fence, and saved a wild pig’s life after it was hit by a car. Overall, Wisinski completed most of the trip alone—about 1,000 km solo. His friend Pedro Pablo Garcia Ortiz accompanied him for a week in the south of Portugal. He completed the entire walk in Teva sandals—a non-traditional way to walk—and lost a total of 12 pounds. He completed his journey on September 5, after walking a total of 1,143 km, and raised more than $2,000, with 21 donations. “I walked into the main square with tears in my eyes and happiness in my heart,” he says. “Even though I walked alone physically, I was not alone in my heart.” The traveler’s future plans are to continue to help those in need through his journeys. “I am currently growing my hair out to donate it to cancer patients who experience hair loss,” he notes. “This December, I will be walking across Haiti with Watering Minds, to help kids get water in Haiti.” Wisinski adds, “It’s hard to say when I’ll stop traveling. It brings me happiness, and—at the end of the day—I’m happy, so it’s great.”   ■ Wisinski with “Mama” PETERS TOWNSHIP ❘ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2018 41