A conversation with a philanthropist

Photo provided

Stacie Eichinger got the idea to walk across America after reading a book about it in high school.

The Tucson, Ariz. native decided a few years ago if she was going to do it, it was now or never. When planning the trip out, she decided she also wanted to raise money for a good cause.

That’s when she decided she was going to raise money for Beads of Courage while walking across America. The organization, as described by Stacie, is a program where every procedure has a specific bead to represent each surgery. Children patients, through the program, receive a bead for each surgery they have.

“There are these 5- or 6-year-old kids who have three or four necklaces and each necklace holds 100 beads,” Stacie said. “the story is powerful and touching.”

She began her walk on May 8th of this year in Ocean Shores, Wash. and plans to continue 3,800 miles to Savannah, Ga. Her trip should continue through February.

At this point she has raised a little more than $19,000, and is at 51% of her goal. She wants to raise 38,000.

Prior to her trip, Stacie volunteered for Beads of Courage. Along the walk, she has carried beads with her. For every $10 donated, she will receive a carry a bead matching bead set, according to her website.

Her goal is to carry a bead for every mile she walks – 3,800 beads, which has the potential to raise $38,000. Every bead she carries will be given to a child in the Beads of Courage Program, she said.

At the end of her trip, money raised will be used to purchase beads for the program. To run the Beads of Courage in one hospital, the cost is $10,000 each year. Stacie has almost raised enough money to run the program in one hospital for two years.

In addition to walking countless miles and visiting people, cities and towns across America, Stacie has stopped in hospitals along the way to meet children in the program.

According to her blog, Stacie is currently in Cincinnati. Those interested in keeping up with her adventure or donating money can do so by visiting her website here.

Advice Stacie has for others wanting to tackle a bigger project is to go for it. It hasn’t been easy planning everything out, but Stacie said she is beyond happy something that started as a dream became a reality.

Here’s a look at some of the questions:

How many shoes have you gone through?
Five- I’m about to be on my sixth pair. Each pair lasts about 500 miles.

What keeps you going?
On days when it’s a little windy and might not be that warm, I think about the kids and it makes it worth it.

What has the best part of your trip been?
Meeting people along the way – people have stopped a lot to ask me what I’m doing. It’s been great to talk with them. Everyone has their own story. 

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*Photos were provided

Check out other conversations here.

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