Thursday, October 23, 2014
   
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Changing world with kindness

He’s crossing the country... twice

If you ran into Armand Young when he visited Gothenburg last week, you likely signed a flag, bandana or other object on his pole of human kindness he carries.

And you promised to perform an act of altruism within 24 hours to honor fallen soldiers.

That’s what Young’s approximate 6,000-mile traverse of the United States is all about.

“I’m trying to get a million signatures to change the world with acts of kindness,” said the California native who now lives in West Virginia. “You can honor a soldier by giving someone a sandwich or a smile.”

Laden with a 62-pound pole which is covered with 559 flags and more than 200 bandanas, Young started his walk in 2007 from the Santa Monica (CA) Pier and eventually made it to Ground Zero in New York City.

There he gathered signatures from all the fire fighters, police and emergency medical technicians who escaped from the Twin Towers before they collapsed in 2001.

With more than 584,000 signatures last Wednesday, his goal is to reach a million by the time he returns to where he started.

Several celebrities, like singer Willie Nelson, have signed the pole.

Young is on his ninth pair of shoes, courtesy of Redwing Shoes, and passes out business cards donated by Staples.

“My walk is driven by our Good Lord and each step I take is for a soldier who cannot walk or for the people who have lost their lives/loved ones on September 11,” Young said.

Once, Young earned a living as a massage therapist on a California beach. There one day, he said God put the idea of completing such a journey in his head.

“That was seven years ago,” Young said.

During his walk, Young accepts donations of food, lodging and fuel and anything else needed. He has a car he drives to each day’s destination and then hitches a ride to where he stopped the night before and starts walking, covering 10 to 12 miles a day.

With a wife, home and mortgage in Charles Town, WV, Young walks in segments. He returns home for a few months to work and see his wife and then resumes walking where he left off.

After seven years of walking, he said he’s ready to get back to work and “be the normal me.”

Already, Young said his pole of human kindness is the most signed object in the world, noting that the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., wants the pole when his walk is completed.

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