A man who was hiking across America barefoot in bid to draw attention to climate change has been fatally struck by an SUV.
Mark Baumer began his no-shoes trek in October and was in his 101st day when he was killed Saturday. The 33-year-old’s quest to “save the earth” was not only meant to create awareness but also raise funds for the FANG Collective, an organization which supports peaceful demonstrations against the natural gas industry.
The Florida Highway Patrol confirmed that the former Greely and Wheaton baseball star was killed as he walked on the side of the Highway 90 in Walton County, Florida, according to the Daily Mail. Baumer, a web content specialist based in Providence did not plan to follow the route that would eventually cost him his life. However, the unsympathetic Ohio snow had made him take a bus to Jacksonville where he continued his hike.
The climate advocate was hoping to raise $10,000 by the time he ended up in California by May. After his death had been confirmed on Saturday, donations poured to his Youcaring page, surpassing his goal by over $2,000. Baumer was also a poet. He had won a $5,000 poetry fellowship from Rhode Island and used the proceeds to fund his trek. A statement from FANG Collective, the nonprofit he was trying to raise money for described him as an “amazingly compassionate, emphatic, humble, joyful, generous, mindful and caring person.”
Before his death, the Rhode Island resident maintained a website notgoingtomakeit.com where he talked about his experiences and posted his poems. He also shared several poems on Instagram, posting them alongside pictures of his swollen feet. In his final post, he had posted a harrowing photo showing a yellow arrow and text captioned “killed” on a road.
The environmentalist in his final video had shown the small sack that he slept in during his journey. He had talked about American consumerism centering on issues like plastic consumption and the fossil fuel industry. A few newspapers had covered Baumer’s journey as he passed through their cities. In an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat, the 33-year-old had reiterated that he was doing it all because of the harm humans were causing the environment.
“The big overall goal is to raise awareness and fight climate change. The more specific goal of that is to raise awareness and funds for an organization back in Rhode Island that’s fighting climate change.”
The Vice reports that is not the first time that Baumer would walk the country. He had done it before in 2010, trekking for 81 days. He had worn shoes during the trip. The environmentalist revealed that he was pushed to raise money for charity after getting unnerved by the dangers of climate change. He said he was baffled why people were not disturbed; adding that if it were a war, people would have treated it differently.
“Every time another news report comes out about the dangers of climate change, I feel like I need to do something, I need to act. I always hear that this is the most important crisis of our time—but you look around, and people aren’t freaking ou…look at World War II, people were mobilized almost immediately.”
Baumer revealed that he developed a strong interest in the environment after working for a nonprofit. He added that it shocked him when he discovered there was a plastic island bigger than Texas. Mark, who is a vegan, made it known that he found it difficult to whip up a meal, confessing that one time for Thanksgiving; he celebrated with a bag of cashews.
Mark Baumer was doing a good thing—walking barefoot cross-country to raise awareness for climate change. He was hit by a car & killed. RIP— Justin L. Daugherty (@JDaugherty1081) January 23, 2017
Absolutely grief stricken by Mark Baumer's passing. He was a beautiful, totally unique, & wonderfully original soul. https://t.co/anUMYynXOj— ๔гคg๏ภ Ⓥ (@DragonFitFreak) January 23, 2017
So sad to hear @markbaumer killed by a car while walking 4 climate change. America, u eat ur greatest & regurgitate ur worst. Walk on, Mark.— Matthew Salesses (@salesses) January 23, 2017
He mentioned that people had been nice on his travels and left him with so many shoes that he could fill up three bags. The 33-year-old said people always gave him strange looks for walking barefoot. He admitted that his feet hurt, but he eased the pain by walking the white line by the edge of the road because it was smooth. During his hikes, he wore a bright orange vest to make himself visible to oncoming drivers.
[Featured Image by Ed Andrieski/AP Images]