From the Earth to the Moon

Many walking enthusiasts will take a four-mile daily constitutional for exercise or to observe the scenery, but Bert Simon, who covers over 25 miles per day on his trek around the world, serves a higher purpose. Simon, 30, is on a one-man mission, wandering the Earth to raise awareness for the welfare of children. He's highlighting the work of YMCA clubs across the globe and their efforts to support kids and the communities they live in.

Simon has a lofty goal in mind to get his point across — he wants to walk 226,000 miles, the approximate distance from the Earth to the moon. Which is why he has named his campaign "Walk to the Moon for the Earth's Children."

Simon got the inspiration to walk the earth when he was visiting a YMCA in the Philippines. The horrible conditions and all of the sick children he saw living and eating out of cardboard boxes struck him. Thinking about what he could do to better the situation, the 24-year-old noticed a map of the area when he was waiting at the airport. He told himself that he could carry the medicine to the kids on foot if need be. He decided to put on some hiking boots as a symbol of what can be done when people put effort into life.

He joined the German army, to get in shape for his journey, and used the money after his discharge to walk the planet and raise funds and awareness for the YMCA. A skilled photographer, he started out visiting schools and showing slide presentations of his trips around Europe. He visited 300 schools in Germany alone, earning over $6,000 for a variety of charities.

Now 14,000 miles into his trek, including 6,000 miles in Australia, Simon has landed on American soil — to begin a trip that will circle the nation. A vegetarian who lives on salad and coffee, he can't live without the laptop, palm pilot and cell phone he carries in his 35-pound backpack. Once Simon surpasses the 30,000-mile mark, he will have set a world record for long distance walking. He estimates that it could take him 25 to 30 years to complete what he called a realistic goal to walk the distance to the moon.

"There will be a time when I gotta leave this place, and it might not necessarily be after the end of the journey," he says. "Who knows? But if I go, I go with the knowledge that I've at least made a difference in some people's lives."

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