By Vanessa Soto, Khai Le
By Vanessa Soto, Khai Le
He heard the waves of the ocean become louder. His heart beat faster. His breath was getting short. He felt the water rise to his feet. After walking 3,300 miles, wearing out 12 pairs of shoes and losing 75-pounds, Hakim Maloum completed his journey; he walked across America.
Forty five pounds overweight, Maloum left his New Jersey life on March 12 with a backpack filled with food, water and other essentials to begin his journey from New York to California.
He accepted only donations of food, shelter and money for necessities, from the people he met along the way. Maloum asked that those who helped with donations write their contact information and a message of where they met in his private journal. Later he would inform them of his results of accomplishment and once again thank them for their generosity.
“I’m doing it to inspire younger generations and prove that nothing is impossible if they want to get up and do something,” Maloum said. “And instead of just preaching it, I’m getting up and doing something about it.”
Maloum immigrated to the U.S. nine years ago from Algeria in North Africa just shy of his 22nd birthday. After five months in the country, he had learned English and later became a chef at an upscale French restaurant in New York City.
However, after dreaming of traveling across the country, Maloum rid himself of all possessions and set himself out on the road to his destination.
Rain, snow or blistering heat could not discourage Maloum from walking an average of 18 miles a day with a 60-pound backpack.
Along the way, a homeless man walked with him for 24 hours, and left him the most memorable message that read, “May the road be kind to you and the cops be blind.” However, aside from all of the donations and support that he received from the American people, he encountered much negativity.
He was verbally taunted about his journey, assaulted in Tenn., accused of being a terrorist, was denied access to stay in a hotel because of his appearance, walked through a desert for three days with no food and came within 100 yards of being struck by lightning. Regardless, he moved forward.
Not knowing exactly where he was going to end, Maloum decided to have a vote on his Web site Paint Atlas. He decided it was going to be either San Diego or Los Angeles, California. The votes were clear that he finish in Los Angeles and that he bask in the ocean of Venice Beach.
Now in Los Angeles, he plans on staying for a month and perhaps working in a restaurant to earn some money.
During his stay, he is going to do everything he can to make his story heard throughout the world.
Maloum was happy. He was nervous. He was relieved. He was sad. As beach goers applauded and cheered for his success, he stepped into the Pacific Ocean with gear and all, and so ended his five month, 13 day walk across America. Emerging from the ocean he said, “I have proved that nothing is impossible.”