How to help
If you want to help Charlie Goodloe get home to Show Low, Arizona, drop off cash donations at JJ’s Bar and Grill at the Econo Lodge, 726 E. Oglethorpe Highway, Hinesville, through Sunday.
For more information, call JJ’s at 912-877-9119, or Pablo Rodriguez, president of the Hispanic Heritage Club of Hinesville and Fort Stewart, at 912-320-7192.
Charlie Goodloe wrapped up a walk across America Friday at Fort Morris Historic Site.
Carey McCartney saw Goodloe walking toward Fort Morris, asked what he was doing and picked him up. McCartney drove Goodloe to the Atlantic Ocean.
This completed a journey that he began on the Oregon coast in 2013.
While a number of people who make coast-to-coast treks on foot and bicycle often start or finish in coastal Georgia, many of them do not have the challenges that Goodloe has.
The first thing that makes his walk so remarkable is his age. Goodloe is 83.
Add to that his health. The Kentucky native and Arizona resident has throat and liver cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart problems and high blood pressure, and he has been hearing impaired all of his life.
During a Friday interview at the Econo Lodge restaurant, JJ’s Bar and Grill, Goodloe recounted his adventure.
His inspiration came from his own adverse circumstances — not his health, but the fact that he could not find a home.
“I’m homeless because I do not make enough money in Social Security to pay rent,” Goodloe said. “And when I tried to get into subsidized housing, I was turned down.”
So he found himself in Oregon, looking for a place to live. When he was walking on the street, something caught his eye.
“I saw a telephone pole that had some signs on it — walk for breast cancer, walk for Alzheimer’s, walk for this cause, walk for this cause,” Goodloe said. He said to himself, “How come somebody don’t walk for the homeless? And I said, ‘I will.’ And that started it.”
So with only a suitcase and his cane, Goodloe set off from Newport, Oregon. His original plan was to walk across the northern section of the country to Pennsylvania, then cut south to go to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. But he ran into more adversity that changed his plans.
“After I got word that my brother passed away, and when I went back for his funeral, I got sick and I wound up — first in the hospital, then the nursing home,” he said. “From that point on, I just kept picking up one foot and putting them down.”
Nearly every person he met on his trek tried to help him in some way, or at least shook his hand and took some time to talk to him.
Often, the first reaction Goodloe got when he told his story was disbelief bordering on concern for his mental state.
“A lot of times, they said, ‘You’re weird,’” he said. “Well, maybe, but it’s something that was laid on my heart, so I done it. And I made a commitment, and to the best of my ability, I kept that commitment.”
He said several people called police to report him walking on the road, but when officers showed up and he told them his story, they commended him. A good number of the officers gave him donations or a ride for a few miles.
Some people paid for hotel or motel rooms, especially when he was not feeling up to walking a long distance.
Being an ex-trucker, Goodloe knew where many truck stops were along his route, and he stopped and slept in the driver’s lounges.
Because part of his cause was to raise awareness of homeless veterans, Goodloe stopped in a number of American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts to talk with them.
“Quite frankly, our government don’t care about the people over here,” he said. “Outside of that, I met a lot of good people, and they will always be in my memory.”
He did say he encountered three “not-so-nice people,” but he did not elaborate on what happened with them.
Goodloe has a daughter who lives in Tennessee, but he said she was unable to help because her financial situation also is precarious.
“They are one paycheck away from being homeless themselves,” he said.
Asked how he endured so much adversity on his long journey, Goodloe credited God.
“I trust in the Lord,” he said. “I am a Christian man, and I just trust in the Lord.”
Goodloe said he will always remember a woman in Idaho who bought him a sleeping bag, tent and other camping gear and helped put him up in a motel for the night.
Once he made it to the Econo Lodge, he approached a woman at JJ’s, asking where he might be able to get toiletries at a store nearby. Instead of telling him where to go, she asked what he needed, left and came back 10 minutes later with toiletries, Goodloe said.
Now, he is trying to get back to Arizona. Several people, including Capt. Orin Nestor of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office and JJ’s partnership owner Luis Rivera, are trying to secure transportation for Goodloe back to his home in Show Low, Arizona
“It made me feel good that there’s still some good people in this country,” Goodloe said of the many people who helped him along the way. “Not all of them, but there is good people in this country. And my hat’s off to them, and my prayers are with them, too.”