North Carolina resident Teri Swezey traveled through Myrtle Beach on Saturday, but not in car. It's part of her 3,039-mile trek across the United States to raise awareness and funds for vulnerable elderly and the family and friends who care for them.
"I'm hoping by doing this walk we can get more support for caregivers," she said.
Swezey began her trip a week prior. She's going from Wrightsville Beach on the North Carolina shore, to Cambria, California on the Pacific Coast, her parents' long-term adopted hometown. The 57-year-old plans to cover about 15 miles a day. Saturday, her trek was much longer. Starting in North Myrtle Beach to Georgetown, South Carolina. That's about 46 miles.
"I'm looking forward to the scenery. Yesterday it was raining. It rained about 12 of the 14 milies," she said.
The expedition should last until October or November 2012.
"This isn't hard, in comparassion."
Swezey's walk, entitled "SOAR Feat 2012," will cross 12 states. She will be stopping along the way to engage and talk to seniors and their caregivers about their experiences with aging and care giving. Swezey will also be raising money for the nonprofit organization she is in the process of creating, Seniors Obtaining Assistance and Resources, Inc. The journey is in honor of her late mother who had late stage dementia and who she cared for during the last few years of her life.
The inspiration for the SOAR name and logo came from a picture of Swezey's late mother performing an awesome soaring swan dive.
SOAR's mission is to help meet the needs of vulnerable elderly and their caregivers, focusing on three specific areas: relief services for caregivers of the elderly (known as respite), prescription co-pay assistance for seniors and low-income meal assistance for seniors.
"These are three common areas of need that I came across as I began to talk with others who have cared for seniors," said Swezey, who is a public health researcher.
Swezey is being followed by a friend a few miles behind her in a truck and trailer, which they stay in at night. She plans to make a documentary about her journey.