PORTLAND, Ore. -- An 11-year-old boy walking across the country to end diabetes made his way through Portland on Wednesday.
Noah Barnes began his 343-day journey from Miami, Fla. to Olympia, Wash. in January. He thought of the fundraising idea last year while grappling with his own diagnosis.
“He came to me and said, ‘I don't want to be a diabetic, what do I need to do?’” Noah’s father, Robert Barnes, said. “I said well, 30 million other people don't want to be diabetic, so if you figure that out let us all know!”
Noah was inspired by a man with one leg who ran across Canada for cancer research.
“I got two legs and I got America,” said Noah. “I got this.”
Noah’s dad said at first, he was skeptical about the plan.
“I'm like, 'Yeah, no. We're not doing that, that's crazy, let’s go do a lemonade stand or something,'” he said.
Robert said that didn’t go over so well.
“[Noah] looked me in the eye and said, ‘Hey, don't you want me to be cured?’”
The family did some long test walks in the hot, Florida sun.
“He wasn't backing down at all,” said Robert. I asked, ‘Does it hurt?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Are you in pain?’ ‘Yes. I got this though.’” Noah replied to him.
The family hit the road, covering between 10 and 20 miles a day. Robert takes care of the home-schooling for Noah and his two siblings. Noah’s mom, Joanne, takes care of logistics.
“I'm very proud,” said Joanne. “I try not to think about the big picture too much though, because it gets overwhelming.”
Noah got a big boost from the Portland Trail Blazers during Wednesday night’s game. Evan Turner had recently made a $50,000 donation to the American Diabetes Association to support Let's Play Portland. Some of Turner's family members have Type 2 diabetes. Turner met with Noah and his family before the game, as did Blazers coach Terry Stotts, who’s also an avid walker.
“We just wanted to thank him,” said Robert. “The tickets and the coach, that's awesome…it was an honor meeting them both.”
In the morning, it'll be back to walking. And it's about time for a new pair of shoes.
“This is my 11th pair,” said Noah.
The road to a cure is a long one, after all, one step at a time.
To learn more about Noah’s journey, visit www.noahsmarch.com