Two Stop at GCU on Walk Across America
By Doug Carroll
Are they nuts?
Anthony Greco and Rob Bonora, two recent graduates of Montclair State University, acknowledge that they might be. They’re from Nutley, N.J., after all, but that’s not what has people wondering what’s up as they walk across the country in the blazing summer sun.
Maybe it’s the baby stroller carrying a cooler of water and being pushed by Bonora. Or it’s his brand-new running shoes with the backs cut out, to accommodate heel blisters from the early part of the journey. Or it’s Greco’s “Coast to Coast for Gail’s Angels” T-shirt.
More likely it’s the upbeat attitudes of two guys determined to make a difference in a very different way. Greco and Bonora, who stopped Thursday, June 17, on the Grand Canyon University campus to eat and bunk for the night, are raising funds for the Gail’s Angels Foundation, which benefits women with breast cancer and autistic children.
GCU has pledged a donation of $1,000 to the foundation.
This is no road show with a support van, corporate sponsorships and media coverage. This is about as no-frills as it gets, and that’s the way Greco and Bonora like it. It’s just them, the road and the cause.
“We wanted to do it on our own,” Greco says. “It’s more genuine this way, and it was an opportunity for us to do something good.”
With the mayor of Nutley, Joanne Cocchiola, calling ahead to cities and towns on their behalf, the walkers have caught some breaks on food and lodging. They were comped at the Wickenburg Inn resort northwest of Phoenix, and they’ve had complete strangers tend to their needs and refreshment.
“We’re only two weeks in,” Greco said, “and I can’t tell you how many people have been kind to us. You really see how generous people are.”
Even so, no one’s doing the walking for them. They started from San Diego on June 1 and have been covering up to 30 miles a day. They began with 40-pound backpacks but switched after a week to the stroller for Bonora and a small pull cart for Greco.
“I was shocked by how hard the first few days were,” said Bonora, recalling a 109-degree day in Blythe, Calif., and another day when each of them consumed almost six liters of water.
Bonora, a health-food devotee, has had to compromise his principles and eat fast food. When you’re hungry and tired, proper nutrition isn’t always a battle worth fighting, he has discovered.
They’re best friends who have studied abroad together, so they’re well-suited for the long days spent in each other’s company. They expect to go through about 10 pairs of shoes apiece and large quantities of SPF 85 sunblock before arriving home in mid-October. Total distance: almost 3,000 miles.
“We wanted to do this while we had the chance,” Greco says.