WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Duo Tom Taylor and John David Norton, who hitchhiked across the country as teens, are now biking across the country.
“It’s been at least 40 years, maybe longer. I’m surprised I still knew how to ride a bike,” Taylor said.
It was his idea.
“I messaged him on Facebook said, ‘John David, you want to ride bikes across the country with me?’ And about 30 seconds later, he was back at me and said, ‘Yep, I’m in,'” Taylor said.
The two came from Santa Monica, California, and made a stop in Wichita on Friday and Saturday. They are headed to Boston, Massachusetts.
“We had high mountains in the west, we had high desert heat, we had a time where you want to get to the next town because you’ve run out of water. It’s an incredible challenge,” Norton said.
The journey is more than just an item on their bucket list.
For Taylor, it is in honor of his wife Thokozile “Thoko” Kesiilwe-Taylor.
“I found her very interesting, very intelligent and very caring, loving person. Too good for me, but I was very lucky to snag her,” Taylor said.
Thoko died 1.5 years ago from sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disease.
Tom said it was mostly affecting her lungs and was starting to affect her heart too.
“She did everything possible and just got worse and worse. She was down to about 80 pounds when she passed away,” Tom said.
Tom is using the ride to bring awareness and raise money for the disease.
Norton’s motivation for the journey is a little boy.
“My grandson, Broderick, he’s eight years old. He needs a kidney,” Norton said.
A traumatic birth left Broderick with only one functioning kidney.
“He’s on the transplant list now due to the fact that COVID reduced the function of his remaining kidney,” Norton said. “He’s completely aware of his needs and what’s going on, but he’s so positive and so vibrant.”
Since Broderick is so young, doctors say a living donor is their best bet.
“It would be a miracle to find someone. It’s hard to ask someone to give up a vital organ, but if it were to happen, and it has happened to strangers, it would be fantastic,” Norton said.
The duo is five weeks in and has traveled around 1,500 miles.
“In every town, there has been trail angels, somebody who has done something kind for us. So it’s just an incredible feeling,” Norton said.
“It’s heartwarming, and we met so many great people. You know, seeing America at 10 miles an hour is a whole different experience,” Taylor said.
They are seeing the country and will hopefully be seeing a change too.
For more about their journey and to donate, go to sarcoidbiketour.com.