David Moore, an Amherst senior and hockey player from Randolph, Mass., traveled across the country last summer—on roller blades.
Before he left Nantasket Beach near his home on May 27, he secured pledges from fellow students, friends, relatives and strangers who agreed to donate certain amounts of money for each state he crossed on the trip. He planned to raise the money for the fight against cancer—specifically, for the Cam Neely Foundation of Boston, a charity established by one of Moore's hockey heroes, the former star forward of the Boston Bruins.
Moore, who roller-bladed across 16 states and reached the Pacific Coast at San Diego on July 31, raised pledges for the foundation totaling $10,000.
He did all his publicity ahead of time; there was no ballyhoo along the way, just the compact and wiry, solitary figure under the sky pressing forward at the edge of the highway. Often the only onlookers were cows.
A boyhood friend, Andy Wood, drove ahead of Moore in a car loaded with supplies and camping equipment. Cell phones kept them in touch, with Wood driving past the horizon each day and Moore catching up. Moore says he skated eight hours a day, aver-aging 60 miles a day and 7.5 miles an hour. He had three pairs of roller blades and wore out more than 80 wheels. He kept a journal.
Writing his final entry on July 31, Moore admitted: "I had to fight the urge to quit a few times, but it seemed like every time I was at the end of my rope the roads got smoother, or we stayed somewhere nice on the water, or there was someone around to point me in the right direction when I was lost. There wasn't anything we couldn't handle."
Because he had to stay off superhighways, he chose smaller routes by studying bicycle road maps. But the map he remembers most is a tapestry of impressions. The worst hills were in Pennsylvania, where the highways have seven- and eight-percent grades; some of the friendliest people were farmers in Kentucky; Kansas was incredibly flat "but the wind in your face made it worse than the hills"; he "raced" a slow train in New Mexico; there were dust devils and wild boars in Arizona.
Before setting out, Moore made 15 mixed tapes of favorite songs and listened to them on his Sony Walk-man as he crossed the country. He won't mind now if he doesn't hear some of those songs ever again—such as "Higher," by the rock band Creed, with its lyrics: "Can you take me higher? . . . Up high I feel like I'm alive for the very first time."
"I was in the mountains," he said, "and I got sick of that one."
But he's glad he persevered. He was blessed with fair skies and good health almost from start to finish; there was only one day of rain, a blister for the first few days, and a strained leg muscle near the end. And to the Cam Neely people, he's a hero.