HARRISON COUNTY, W.Va. (WBOY) — If you see a man running east on Route 50, who looks a bit like Forrest Gump, it’s actually Michael Wardian on his journey across the United States.
Wardian was born in Morgantown, West Virginia and lived in Fairmont until he was in the 4th grade. Even at a young age, he always dreamed about running across America.
His journey started on May 1 in San Francisco, California. He is running across 13 states, traveling more than 3,200 miles on America’s loneliest highway, Route 50, and will finish at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware on July 1.
Michael is running across America to raise money for World Vision, with a goal to raise $100,000 for clean water projects.
“I thought running across America would be a good way to raise awareness for World Vision and what they are doing to help people get clean water,” said Michael Wardian, Pro Marathon and Ultra-Marathon Runner.
Michael has been a runner since 1995, and it has taken him since then to prepare for the long journey across the United States. He said his daily runs average about 50 miles.
Growing up, Wardian saw Forrest Gump, and this inspired him to run across the country. He said that he hopes his journey inspires other people.
“I just heard this term today ‘radical confidence’ to just start, and I think a lot of times that’s all it takes. And don’t be afraid to ask for help; I think you will be surprised how many people want to be a part of your journey and help you get to where you wanna go.”
Wardian suffers from a condition known as Athlete’s Heart, where his heart is enlarged, but that doesn’t stop him from living his dream. During this run, MedStar Health and Cardiac Insights will study what happens when his body is put through extreme conditions to find data that could help people with a similar condition.
Wardian told 12 News that he has been getting in the West Virginia spirit with his music choices while in the state.
“I feel like every day I have ‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC, ‘Mama I’m Coming Home’ by Ozzy Ozborne, and the last couple of days, I have been playing like ‘Country Roads Take Me Home’ by John Denver,” Wardian said.
He hopes to put his feet in the Atlantic Ocean on July 1.
“I think one of the coolest things about this journey has been the chance to connect with people along the way, and I’m looking forward to more and more people coming out, so I will be near Clarksburg tomorrow [Friday] starting at 6 a.m., so if people want to come out and run a couple miles or say hello, that would be great. If someone drives by and wants to give a honk or a wave that would be great too,” Wardian said.
If you would like to make a donation to World Vision and help with clean water for all click here.