Mark Solz began his walk across the U.S. at San Diego’s Petco Park Monday, the start of a personal journey to honor his mother.
Solz is walking across the country to fund raise for people suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS.
The walk also marks a way for Solz to pay tribute to his mother, who passed away from the disease on March 1, 2010.
“My mom passed away six years ago tomorrow,” Solz said. “Thought it’d be a fitting tribute to her. Walk across America, got to do it big.”
He started his journey at San Diego’s Petco Park with a big send-off from New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees, who wished him well and walked with him for a while.
Solz hopes to raise $37,000 to donate to help people who are diagnosed with the disease, giving them tools to communicate and stay mobile. He’s raising money as part of Team Gleason, named after Steve Gleason, a former Saints player and teammate of Brees; Brees has been working to help those with ALS.
It's one of the reasons why the former Chargers quarterback came out to support Solz on his major journey.
“Being a neurological disease it takes away all your activity and yet your brain and everything is as sharp as ever, but everything else just deteriorates,” Brees said. “Obviously it's easy to get frustrated and feel that there's no hope, and yet, Steve has given everyone hope.”
For Solz, it’s not about the destination, but the journey. He will be walking 30 miles a day for seven months.
Solz hopes to get to Yankee Stadium in New York to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Lou Gherig's passing. The baseball player died of ALS in 1941, two years after giving a famous and emotional retirement speech.
You can follow his story and donate to Team Gleason here.