4 Amazing Feats of Endurance for Social Good

When helping charities, most people volunteer a few hours or donate money or resources. But by channeling their spirit of adventure, these folks went above and beyond.

1. A runner retraces Forrest Gump’s iconic route for wildlife and peace.

A longtime fan of the 1994 classic “Forrest Gump,” veterinarian Robert Pope took seven months to run from Alabama, to California, to Washington, D.C., and to Massachusetts for the Boston Marathon.

Pope wanted to prove that the run was possible and fundraise for the World Wildlife Fund and Peace Direct.

2. An environmentalist doesn’t speak or use a car for 17 years.

In 1972 — a year after a giant oil spill in San Francisco Bay — “Planetwalker” John Francis vowed to never ride in a car again. He stopped speaking a few years later, hoping instead to listen to what other people had to say.

This silence continued for 17 years, during which Francis earned three degrees — including Ph.D. in land management — and walked across the United States several times. He’s since worked with the Coast Guard on oil spill legislation and became a UNEP Goodwill Ambassador.

3. An endurance swimmer swims the seven seas to protect marine habitats.

After swimming the Mediterranean, the Adriatic, the Aegean, the Black, the Red, the Arabian and the North seas, Lewis Pugh saw the urgency of protecting the ocean firsthand.

As the UN Patron of the Ocean told the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, “It was an eye-opening experience. The United Nations Environment Programme is urging nations to set aside 10 percent of the oceans as effective marine protected areas, but from what I saw 10 percent simply won’t do it.”

“In four weeks of swimming I didn’t see one fish bigger than my hand, I didn’t see one shark, one whale, or one dolphin.”

4. A father bikes across the country for suicide prevention.

Last summer, Washington father Olutayo Ayodeji finished a ride across America that he once hoped to complete with his son, Sule. Instead, he rode in his memory.

Sule overdosed on pills at age 16. Ayodeji channeled his grief into promoting suicide awareness and prevention.

“Mental illness is real,” he said. “It’s not a joke. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

Photo Credit: Jenny Hill/Unsplash

44 comments

Marie W
Marie Wabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Telica R
Telica Rabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing

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Carl R
Carl R1 years ago

Thanks!!!

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Peggy B
Peggy B1 years ago

Wow, amazing people.

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rosario p
rosario p.1 years ago

" The influence of a vital person vitalizes. The spiritless world is a wasteland. Follow the path of your heart. Find where it is, and do not be afraid to go into." - Joseph Campbell. - Everybody has to find his/her way, that is what counts, that is the path.

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Carl R
Carl R1 years ago

Thanks!!!!

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Debra G
Debra G1 years ago

These people deserve widespread recognition and our heartfelt thanks.

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Patricia H
Patricia Harris1 years ago

Past Member, wow!!! That must be a pretty scary experience! While we're on the subject of Germany, my father used to go there as part of his job. And, I found out something very shocking. There were Nazis on his mother's side!

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John B
John B1 years ago

Thanks Emily for sharing the stories, bio and wonderful videos.

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Deborah W
Deborah W1 years ago

AGAIN, SWEPT AWAY BEFORE ENDING -- with this most important line:
LOVE IS THE ANSWER.

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