When Steve Wescott, a self-proclaimed “city kid,” set out to walk and camp his way across America, he planned to take his dog. Before they left for the 3,500-mile journey, Wescott’s dog got hurt at a dog park. In response, Wescott adopted a goat.
He found the goat, which he since named LeeRoy Brown, through New Moon Goat Rescue & Sanctuary in Arlington, Wash.
“My first thought was, ‘Who’s abandoning goats enough to where you’d need a goat rescue?’ I’d never heard of anything like that,” Wescott said. “My second thought was, ‘I’ve got to see this magical land of goats.’”
He called the rescue and the owner, Ellen Felsenthal, said she had just the right goat for a cross-country trek.
“That’s when I met LeeRoy, and it was destiny; he’s an amazing goat,” Wescott said. “To him, I’m another goat. So we’re boys. We hang out and talk about girls and life. He’s pretty witty.”
In addition to serving as Wescott’s companion and cargo-carrier, Wescott said LeeRoy is a great guard dog — er, guard goat. Wescott said LeeRoy is not always friendly to strangers.
“What I love though is he’s got big horns, and if I tie him up outside somewhere it’s kind of a deterrent. They’re like, ‘Um, maybe I shouldn’t try and steal that goat,’” Wescott said. “He protects himself and he protects us, and we have a good old time on the road. It’s been fun.”
Not a gimmick
Wescott said LeeRoy’s inclusion in the project was not originally designed as a gimmick.
“He was supposed to be a friend, just someone who could carry extra weight for me and keep me company,” Wescott said. “Now, it’s the reason people talk to me.
“He’s my brown goat, but he’s as close to gold as you can get,” Wescott said. “He’s opened all the doors on this trip and he’s just made everything possible, really. I mean, that’s the reality. Without him, I think I probably wouldn’t be half as popular as I am on Facebook.”
An Abilene resident spotted Wescott and Brown at Kwik Shop, 1401 N. Buckeye Ave., on Oct. 15.
“I walked three blocks here and people are stopping and doing that kind of incognito click of the phone, like, ‘Uh, there’s a guy with a goat but I don’t want to talk to him because it’s weird,’” Wescott said. “Then there are the other people who are like, ‘Come on, what are you doing?’ They get all (excited), they want to know everything, and that’s what it’s about.
“As epic as walking across America is with a goat, it’s seriously just hype,” Wescott said. “The real cause is so much more important.”
7,000 miles away
The distance from New York City to Nairobi, Kenya, is 7,000 miles.
LeeRoy’s most important role is to draw attention to Wescott’s cause: an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya, run by his best friend, Steve Turner.
“He’s the main guy; I’m the hype guy,” Wescott said. “In hip-hop, there’s the main rapper and there’s a guy that runs around him behind him, hyping everything he says, and that’s pretty much what all this is about. The main focus is what’s happening over there in Africa, and I’m just kind of like, ‘Look! I’ve got a goat! Listen to my stories about Africa!’”
Uzima Outreach is a faith-based organization that provides free meals, schooling and more to orphaned and at-risk children.
“Our kids get fed and schooled but they also get the Gospel,” Wescott said. “I’ve got a YouTube channel and they send me little videos.”
Wescott said this type of relationship with children is new to him.
“I was a rocker – both my friend and I played music (full-time) before this – so we’ve gone from rock music to 34 kids,” Wescott said. “It’s like, no responsibility to complete responsibility. It’s such an amazing project that way.”
7 million steps
The distance of Wescott’s trek – 3,500 miles – is equal to 7 million steps.
Wescott said he sold everything he owned to take up this project. He said he relies on the generosity of God and people to supply his needs.
“I’ll tell this story: I was coming off of Rabbit Ears Pass in Colorado between Steamboat and Kremmling,” Wescott said. “I come around this corner, and there’s this Audi sitting around the road with its flashers on. I walk up to it and a family gets out. They give me a Subway sandwich, two Gatorades and a bag of chips. ‘Oh hey, thank you so much.’
“A car pulls up on the opposite side and they give me a Subway sandwich, two Gatorades and a bag of chips,” Wescott said. “It was so funny.”
Wescott said he now actually plans for the kindness he believes to receive on a daily basis.
“I think the word gets out and people want to invest into something that’s real, so they’ll bring me food,” Wescott said. “I don’t have enough food or water to get to Chapman. I mean, Chapman is going to be a day, but I just take a granola bar and a little bit of water, and then by the time I get there, we’ll be loaded down with food because people start to invest into the project.
“I don’t have enough money to get across America, but I don’t need it,” Wescott said. “God’s going take care of it, so that’s really exciting. It’s a step of faith, and it’s a lesson in faith. That’s one thing I’ve really been learning: that he will take care of us. It’s not always the most comfortable, but I would say I’m probably the most comfortable guy walking across America with a goat.”
Since Wescott’s walk is from the Space Needle to Times Square, he has titled the project Needle2Square. He joked that when he arrives in New York City, he will buy a Segway for himself and a side-cart for LeeRoy so they never have to walk again.
Kidding aside, Wescott said he hopes to stay in the States for a couple of months to continue promoting the cause through speaking engagements and other opportunities before he hops on a plane to jump into the work of caring for, feeding and teaching more than 30 African children.
“I’m not necessarily in a rush to head over there right away because I want to make the most of the opportunity God is providing,” Wescott said. “I’ll head over there, but I just want to make sure that I’m available for all the possibilities that hopefully sprout from this.”
After all, as Wescott said, “Where God guides, he provides.”
For more information, visit www.needle2square