Diabetic Boy Leads Family on Cross-Country Trek for a Cure

KING 5's Eric Wilkinson reports.

Side by side they have walked for 340 days – some 4,200 miles since they started their journey in Key West, Florida.

Noah Barnes and his dad Rob are now making their way through Whatcom County and ultimately to the Peace Arch at the Canadian border – all of it on foot.

"It feels great!" said Noah, marching down Old Highway 99.

Noah and his entire family are crossing the country for a cause. Noah was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at just 16 months old. Last year, when he hit his 10th birthday, he'd had enough.

"It affects how I sleep. It pretty much affects everything, like my mood, energy, reading," said Noah, now 11.

Noah learned about people who had raised money to cure other diseases and asked his parents if he could organize a fundraiser himself.

Dad thought it would be a lemonade stand or a 5K.

"So, he comes to me and says, 'Hey I've got two legs and America. Let's do this!' I'm like, what happened to my lemonade stand and my 5K?" Rob said.

The family committed for the long haul.

"What do you say to your 10-year-old son when he asks you, 'Don't you want me to be cured?'" Rob said.

Rob quit his job as finance director at a Florida car dealer.

Mom, Joanne, packed up their savings, the other two kids, and took on the role of support staff and mobile homeschool teacher.

"They've learned so much on this trip just by living it," she said.

Joanne drives her 4-year-old and 8-year-old from stop to stop. She keeps all of the kids caught up on their coursework, coordinates food and lodging, while making sure Noah's blood sugar levels stay in check.

They've survived the past 12 months largely on the generosity of others. People have donated food, money, sneakers, and places to stay.

"It's amazing to see how good America really is," said Rob.

With sore feet but a strong will they've crossed a continent in search of a cure for a disease – that disease leading them to a deeper love for their family every step of the way.

"You don't see a family doing this. That experience, in and of itself, is everything," said Rob.

Noah and his family plan to finish their journey on Saturday in Blaine. They expect to raise about $35,000 for diabetes research. Donate here.

© 2017 KING-TV


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