RVC’s Finnegan makes pit stop in Ohio to fix cart wheel


Rockville Centre’s Daniel Finnegan and friend Abby Bongaarts remain strong as they began the Ohio leg of their walk across the United States. But the same could not be said for their trusty pushcart.

“Caddy” had to have one of its wheels replaced due to the amount of weight that had been on the cart and the wear and tear it endured during the first month of the trip. When the walk started on March 1, the cart was loaded with such items as camping and survival supplies, including sleeping pads and beds, sprays and lotions, tents, a first-aid kit, a tarp, ponchos, safety vests, a fire starter and water filter, head lamps, a shovel and toiletries.

Luckily for Finnegan, he had a lifetime warranty on the cart, which was especially built for long-distance hikes. The company that produced the cart shipped a new wheel to the Zanesville, Ohio, motel they were staying at through overnight mail. It arrived on April 12.

“It looks great,” Finnegan said. “We were laughing. It’s like getting a brand new rim on a Cadillac.”

Zanesville is about 55 miles east of Columbus.

Finnegan and Bongaarts also had a guest walker who accompanied them on their trip for three days when they met wildlife biologist Anna Butler in Pittsburgh in early April. Her knowledge came in handy when they encountered a three-foot snake along the Pan Handle Trail. Butler assured them that that type of snake ate rats, not humans.

On April 5, the three of them crossed through three states in a single day. They began in Pennsylvania, crossed through West Virginia, and ended the day in Ohio at Franciscan University in Steubenville. They stayed with some of the students on campus.

“We were treated like celebrities as we walked through campus with them, and then spent the evening in their dorm eating pasta and chatting with their friends,” Finnegan blogged about the day.

Finnegan said he and Bongaarts continue to find families who were willing to let them “yard camp” on their property for the night and have yet to be rejected. In one instance, a family stopped them on a highway and offered them food and an extra bed at a Ohio farm that they ran. They stayed with them for two days, helped them run the farm and got to ride their horses.

“They were just a real, blue-collar, good people family,” Finnegan said. “They gave us everything they could offer us, four or five meals, food for us to leave, they gave us camping gear that we might need. They went above and beyond.”

Because of the warmer weather and the sun being out longer due to daylight saving time, Finnegan said their walks now average about 20-25 miles a day. He said the pair would be wearing shorts for the first time on April 13.

Those who would like to support Finnegan and Bongaarts on their journey and make a donation to JOIN, a non-profit organization that assists the homeless, can visit their Fundly page at https://fundly.com/a-walk-across-america.