Greg Hamblock is running and walking through the Utah landscape these days, part of a cross-country tour.
He’s asking people he meets along the way to help him raise funds for two children he met while tutoring at a homeless shelter in Baton Rouge, La.
Hamblock, 25, hopes to reach the Miami suburbs by early November. By then, he hopes he will have collected enough funds to give the children enough money to give them a private school education and give them a head start in life they would not have otherwise.
Havre was something of a second home for Hamblock when he was growing up. His parents, Patti and Mike Hamblock, were from Havre. His grandparents on both sides were Havreites, and he has aunts and uncles still here, though Hamblock himself graduated from Butte schools.
This weekend, he was traveling the hilly terrain east of Salt Lake city, recalling his chance meeting with Chris and Megan Bonds, then 5 and 3, in Baton Rouge in 2009.
Hamblock was tutoring third-graders under a volunteer program, when one day he and fellow volunteers visited young people at a homeless shelter.
“One little boy was kind of bugging me all day, ” he said. “He was a real cute kid. ”
That was Chris.
Chris’ mom told Hamblock that he was in dire need of positive male role models and asked him to help.
As time went on, the family found an apartment, and Hamblock continued to visit them.
When his time in Baton Rouge was over, he kept in touch with the kids. The kids were charming and smart, and he wanted to help them from going down the wrong road, like so many Baton Rouge children he met.
The elementary schools were bad, he thought, but the middle and high schools were awful.
“The middle and high schools were violent-filled and drug infested, ” he said.
He talked to friends about ways he might be able to finance a private school education for them.
“I was just trying to find a way to pay for it, ” he said.
He thought $60,000 would provide the kids with a start toward a private school education, and set that as something of a tentative goal.
He decided he would walk and run across country — from the state of Washington to Miami. That combined with scholarships and other funding might get the children through high school at a private school.
So, he started his tour, using a modified shopping cart to carry his personal belongings.
Unlike others on similar trips, he is alone on his trip — there is no accompanying car.
He’s trained himself in how to deal with the media, getting attention for his walk.
On a normal day, he starts at 9 or 9:30 a. m. and walks and runs until after dark.
He often stays at campsites or national parks. Occasionally he treats himself to a motel room.
Raising money was slow at first, he said, but it’s starting to pick up, after he received media attention in Boise, Idaho, and Salt Lake City, Utah.
“I am just amazed at the quality of the people I’ve met along the way, ” he said.
Often motorists stop him, asking if they can help. When he explains his work, they offer contributions. Others stop to give him food.
Initially, he thought he would reach his destination in late October, now, he thinks it may be early November.
The trip is timed so that he will go through the North during the hot summer, and then end up in the South while it is still hot. But that doesn’t deter him.
“I am going to finish, ” he said. “I’m sure I will. ”