Taking up the fight against Batten Disease, a terminal brain condition affecting some 2,000 children around the world, Noah Coughlan wanted to “do something so big that the media couldn’t ignore it,” as he recently told Pennsylvania’s TribLIVE website.
As a quick Google search of his name reveals, he’s certainly accomplished that goal. The 29-year-old is in the final week of his second cross-country run, and if all goes as planned, and he reaches Boston on November 10, he’ll become only the 27th person to have twice gone coast-to-coast on foot.
Coughlan’s first trek was in 2011, and the 2,500 miles he covered were dedicated to the Allio family, friends from his hometown of Vacaville, CA. Specifically, he was running for Catie and Annie, two young girls fighting Batten.
This time out, he’s broadening his focus, covering 3,200 miles and raising money and awareness for kids all over the world. Along the way, as he’s crossed through deserts and major Midwestern cities alike, pushing a three-wheeled stroller packed with the limited supplies he’s brought for the trip, he’s met more than 50 families with children stricken by the deadly disease.
“This time, I am stronger physically and mentally, and I'm more media-savvy,” Coughlan said.
He’s also a little lighter. Even consuming 6,000 to 9,000 calories per day, he’s lost 25 pounds since beginning his journey. Chalk that up to the fact that he’s averaging 35 miles per day, all while carrying an American flag and dealing with whatever nature throws his way.
On his recent pass through Pennsylvania, he noted that the hilly state would be his “last big hurdle” before the Atlantic Coast. It certainly hasn’t been his first. In Colorado, a hailstorm led to a detour through Wyoming, and in Illinois, he had to abandon his tent, figuring cold weather would keep him from sleeping outside.
“I'm at the mercy of Mother Nature,” Coughlan told TribLIVE. “This is not an ideal time to run across America.”
Meteorologically speaking, that may be true, but spending nights in discount hotel rooms and the homes of generous supporters, he’s felt plenty of warmth—of both kinds—since leaving California.
“The whole country has become my support group,” he said.
Click here for more information on Coughlan’s run.