42-year-old Richard Swanson has only recently embarked on the journey of a lifetime. Just shy of a fortnight into the trek that was to last until the 2014 World Cup competitions commence in Brazil this coming May 1, Swanson was struck and killed by a driver in a pickup truck just outside of Lincoln City, Oregon. Swanson began his trek in Seattle.
Swanson’s two sons had completed high school, and he was unemployed. He decided to sell his condo and embark on a 10,000 mile journey to Brazil while dribbling a soccer ball.
Kristi Schwesinger, a Seattle interior designer and close friend of Swanson’s, said he had been a private investigator for many years, and switched to a new career as a graphic designer, but was laid off recently, and looking for an adventure.
“He was at a point in his life where he had raised his kids,” she said. “Both his boys (Devin and Raven) had graduated from high school. He had no mortgage. He had sold his condo recently and was between jobs.
“And he loved the game of soccer,” she said. “He stumbled on this great organization, One World Futbol, and decided this would be his passion the next year.”
The journey was a mission of sorts for Swanson who embarked on it like the Apostles of old going forth with “neither purse nor scrip”. Swanson would coordinate meetings through Facebook with well-wishers who supported his cause and would lodge him for the night at various locations.
The driver of the vehicle was not charged with his death. The CEO of One World Futbol Project has expressed his sadness over the loss of Swanson calling him an “inspiring” man who “walked his way into many lives”.
“We are deeply saddened to learn about Richard’s death,” Lisa Tarver, chief operating officer of the One World Futbol Project, said.
“He was a very inspiring man who in a very short time walked his way into many lives. Our thoughts are with his family.”
He left Seattle on May 1, and estimated the trip would take him on foot for more than a year through 11 countries before reaching Sao Paolo, Brazil, where the World Cup soccer tournament will be played.
“It will be a trip of a lifetime where I will push myself further than I ever thought possible,” he said.
Swanson started out in flip-flops for 13 nights but switched to hiking sandals. He stayed two nights in with his son but otherwise had been able to sleep on the couches of one stranger after another who befriended him and helped him on his journey.
“It was all by word of mouth, Facebook, media contacts, friends and family who put the word out,” Ms Schwesinger said.
“The hardest thing is he was so young,” Ms Schwesinger said. “Just today we were planning his surprise birthday party for Sunday. He was so young, so full of life, so excited by the journey he was on.
“To be taken from us so soon is really heartbreaking.”
On The Web:
Man dribbling soccer ball 10,000 miles to Brazil killed by truck
Richard Swanson: Man trying to dribble football 10,000 miles from US to Brazil before 2014 World Cup killed