Usually when people plan to take a road trip across the United States, it involves four wheels and a car. But, Amherst-native Michael Lempko, 26, will take off from San Francisco with six wheels and his rollerblades.
The 4,200 mile trip will take Lempko from the west coast, through the heart of America and finish in Brooklyn. And, of course, he'll make a stop in his hometown of Buffalo. If all goes to plan, Lempko will start his trip in San Francisco May 28.
"I would say I'm equal parts nerves and excitement," Lempko said.
One thing that's helping him get over those nerves is the reason he's making the trip.
Lempko is raising money for No Kid Hungry, an initiative through a nonprofit called Share Our Strength. The group combats food insecurity and works to end to childhood hunger.
One in five children in WNY is food insecure, meaning they don't have consistent access to enough nutritious food to lead a healthy life. That's according to the Food Bank of WNY, which supports more than 50,000 kids every month.
"I wanted to find a charity that was A, nationwide and B, gave back to kids who are maybe born in less fortunate situations and help provide them with more ample opportunity to have a more comfortable and better life and succeed in a better way to follow their own dreams," he explained.
Lempko grew up in Amherst and graduated from Canisius High School. He moved to Denver after finishing college in Chicago and has lived there since.
If he keeps up with his planned 45 mile-a-day pace, Lempko said he can finish the whole trip in four months.
After announcing his trip and fundraiser on May 1, Lempko said many friends have reached out to help and he's even hearing from total strangers offering a place to stay or someone to ride with for parts of the journey.
"The outpouring of support from both people who are close to me and know me and in extended circles, not just in Buffalo or Denver, but around the country has been so incredibly awesome," he said.
If you want to support Lempko's journey, you can find his GoFundMe page here. Ninety percent of donations will go straight to No Kid Hungry. The remaining ten percent will help pay for wheels, gear and other necessities for the trip.
You can keep up with Lempko throughout the trip on his online blog Mike on Blades.