Florida man inspires Plumas County residents to ‘Love Life’ during his walk thro
Steve Fugate from Florida makes his way through Plumas County as he journeys through the United States spreading his message: “Love Life.” Photo by Samantha P. Hawthorne
In an attempt to spread his philosophy of “Love Life” throughout the United States, Florida resident Steve Fugate passed through Canyon Dam and surrounding areas March 20 on his way through the lower 48 states.
In the last year Fugate has traveled through 21 states and has another 27 to go before he meets his goal. This trip will be his eighth time across the United States over the last 13 years. Motivated by the sudden death of his two children, 67-year-old Fugate marches through the United States in hopes of inspiring those he meets through his devastating story.
In 1999, Fugate was halfway through hiking the Appalachian Trail when he learned that his 26-year-old son committed suicide. His trip was put on hold for nine months while he mourned the death of his son. Rather than wallow in the despair of his loss, Fugate decided to finish his hike.
While hiking the trail he heard the cries of coyote pups and felt as if they we crying for him. The experience struck him with an overwhelming desire to reach out to all those who have lost a child to suicide. From that, Love Life was born. He said the concept of “Love Life” derives from the opposite of how a person who commits suicide must be feeling. Ever since, he has traveled through the country carrying his message on his back.
During his second walk across the country his 36-year-old daughter accidentally overdosed on drugs. Fugate said she never got past her brother’s suicide and it led her down a path of self-destruction.
After experiencing the loss of two children, Fugate considers himself an expert in the consequences suicide has on the people left behind. He said, “You do not have the right to take your own life because it does not belong to just you — it belongs to your loved ones. My creed is to mend the broken heart while it is yet breathing. I do that by carrying the sign and talking to people along the way.”
“You do not have the right to take your own life because it does not belong to just you — it belongs to your loved ones. My creed is to mend the broken heart while it is yet breathing. I do that by carrying the sign and talking to people along the way.”
His latest journey started March 23, 2013, in his hometown of Vero Beach, Fla. Fugate chooses his routes very carefully, making sure to avoid intersections. In an effort to stay off of “boring U.S. 395,” Fugate chose to go through scenic Plumas County on his way to Dorris, Calif. — the last city before he gets into Oregon.
Fugate said his trips usually last about six months; however, he expects the remainder of this trip will last at least another year and a half because he chose to zigzag through the country.
Fugate said although he is retired, the income he receives does not cover all his expenses. Despite that, he said he has never once asked for money. “My needs are always met because I reap what I sow.” He said he has a genuine love for life and for all people. “All you need to do is love life and embrace it. My goal in life is to have a heart-governed mind instead of a mind-governed heart.
“In my previous walks, I’ve encountered numerous random acts of kindness. It’s been wonderful, extremely enlightening and rewarding. My walking isn’t as easy as it was when I started at age 53. But I stay determined to spread the suggestion ‘Love Life’ as a mindset that can most definitely enable us all to get past all adversity in our lives.”
Fugate walks on average 2 miles per hour and approximately 20 miles per day. At night he either pitches a tent and sleeps outside or, if available, stays in nearby accommodations. While headed through Canyon Dam he stayed the night at the Quail Lodge.
While passing through Greenville he said he had the pleasure of meeting Doug Sheehy, who lost his son Luke in a smoke-jumping accident last year. He said that is the type of experience that inspires him to continue walking. He said many of the people he meets are deeply distressed and some have confided in him that they have considered giving up. After seeing his sign and hearing his views, however, they often have a change of heart.
“When you get up in the morning you need to realize your own special uniqueness and pursue it. It’s all about loving life and embracing your fellow human being! If you are struggling and having bad times you need to stop and make sure you are giving good to your fellow man.
“When your flow of love is pure you get a return on it. Find out who you are and don’t follow everyone else,” he said. He said his “bad day” usually lasts no more than three to four minutes because he embraces life and has a genuine love for people.
“If you want to be happy in this life you need to forget about yourself; there is nothing more important than loving your fellow human being.”