The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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September 14, 2013

New Jersey man walking across America to encourage acts of kindness

ASHTABULA — Thomas Francine is walking more than 3,000 miles to encourage others with acts of kindness and shed light on the good of humanity.

He has spent the past two months walking from Portland, Maine to Ashtabula, covering about 20 miles a day.

“I have had no bad experiences; only good things ... In the past, I’ve done a lot of hitchhiking — 26,000 miles and nothing bad has happened,” said the 26-year-old from New Jersey. “My experiences have inspired me to make a documentary and write about it. I call it ‘Go Greater Good.’”

Now Francine is in the midst of his latest chapter, “Walk Across America.” He started July 8 in Maine and plans to end his journey in January in San Diego, Calif.

He stopped Friday morning on Bridge Street. He recently spent a day at Presque Isle in Erie.

“I have been walking along Lake Erie since Buffalo,” he said. “Right now, I am on the Coastal Trail, meeting amazing people.”

Francine said he has been “smelling grapes the whole way, as this is wine country and the grapes are just about ripe for picking.”

The purpose of this cross-country walk is to inspire others to Change the World with acts of kindness, he said.

Francine passes out cards challenging people to find compassion for three people — yourself, someone you know and a stranger.

He set up camp at night or stays with people who invite him into their homes. He travels with a three-wheeled stroller containing items and food people have given him along the way. He likes traveling and meeting new people, he said.

His family back in New Jersey worries about him, but they are supportive, he said. To ease their minds, he keeps in touch with them every day.

When asked if he’s seen any exceptionally beautiful scenery  since he left Maine, he said the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire was beautiful.

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