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Man hikes East Coast to raise awareness for addiction

WSLS covered Big Jim as he walked through Roanoke County, VA.


ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – A recovering addict is hiking 2,200 miles along the East Coast to raise awareness for addiction.

He left Panama City, Florida, on Feb. 1 and made his way through Southwest Virginia Monday.

Anyone driving down Route 460 over the past few days may have seen him, walking along the road, carrying a cross.

Jim Downs, better known as Big Jim, is hiking from Florida to Canada.

“I’m reaching for anyone that’s struggling. I want to be able to help ‘em and be able to get them in free recovery,” Downs said.

Jim knows the issue all too well. He struggled with addiction for 34 years.

“I was told that if I didn’t find recovery, I was going to be dead in no time,” Downs said.

He was accepted into a free, faith-based recovery program in Florida that he says changed his life.

“I found out to be able to overcome addiction, I had to be able to find hope and through hope, I found Jesus Christ. And because of his grace upon me, I’m now able to do what I’m doing which is… I know where I was… I know what a monster I was in my past. But that’s not who I am now,” Downs said.

As Jim hikes across the country, he’s spreading his message of hope.

“I’m not just walking, my wife and I, we are constantly helping people find meetings, finding support, finding recovery,” Downs said.

While Jim walks, his wife goes into nearby communities, talks with people battling addiction, and even sells produce on the side of the road to help raise money.

“Even though it hurts every day and I know it will hurt, even though it’s hot, it’s ridiculous on the knees and the feet… I wake up in the morning with a big smile,” Downs said.

He says his positive impact far outweighs the pain.

“When I’m able to get messages from mothers and fathers that are thanking me for being able to help their child … that’s….. I’ve got a soft heart now and so I just cry over it because I helped somebody get out of what I was in,” Downs said.

The recovering addict is trying to make a difference in this world, one step at a time.

“I may not have a lot, but I have everything and I hope… I hope that everyone else’s hope increases when they see this cross walking down the road,” Downs said.

Jim is already planning for next year. He says on Jan. 1, he’ll begin a 4,000-mile walk from Key West to Seattle.

Click here to find out how to support Jim on his journey.

Copyright 2017 by WSLS 10 – All rights reserved.

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June 11 UPDATE

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Hey Everyone…

This is long overdue and I normally do it by video but not this time. May was the most incredible month and June is now shaping up to be even better. Why? Because I am learning a valuable education on this walk. I have learned that this world will pull you in 100 different directions all at the same time. This is done on purpose by the wicked one. He does this so you can’t hear or understand what the Lord is truly wanting you to do. The devil kind of does a bait and switch on you all the time. He even uses your closest allies and friends that you count on to give you great advice anf uses them to cloud what the good Lord is trying to get you to realize or do for Him…

You see, I was planning on doing the Appalachian Trail all the way through. Until the Lord spoke to me and said,

After 2 weeks of intensive prayer and argument, I gave into His will and with a broken heart and a broken dream of being one of the few that completed the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, I have come off the trail and am now walking to Canada via the American Roadways. I am approximately 60 miles away from finishing Tennessee and beginning Virginia.

I have had an amazing breakthrough in my spiritual life recently. I confessed and laid a burden down at the altar. I have always lusted after money. Money has recently worried the fire out of me. The worry was effecting my confidence as well as my focus on the end result of completing this walk. I was always praying for money and financial blessings to continue this walk. Well, since I laid it down at his feet and gave it all to Him to deal with and truly have faith in His promise to me, I am full of peace and joy. I am happy and without worry. But, I took it a step further. I picked up the cross the Dayton TTI kids carried across RHEA COUNTY and have started carrying it with me, HOLDING IT HIGH FOR EVERY CAR TO SEE!!! I truly believe that since I have confessed openly and publicly my sin of wealth and lust after money and worry, and the Lord forgave me for it, and I have continued to move forward allowing the Lord to do with my life and provide for me as He sees fit, since I have picked up the cross and carry it for His Glory, and testify for what He has done for me in my life while holding that cross, giving Him every single bit of the Glory, I have never been so blessed in all my life…

The trip to Minnesota was frowned upon by many as they did not understand why I would stop walking and travel halfway across the country in the opposite direction to speak at a few programs, churches, and support meetings. THIS TRIP WAS WITHOUT A DOUBT ORCHESTRATED AND PUT TOGETHER PERFECTLY BY GOD HIMSELF! Madi and I learned so much about recovery that we never knew even existed. We have so many new friends as well as professional contacts that are waiting for the opportunity to jump in and help BIG JIMS WALK FOUNDATION.

There are 2 highlights that stick out to me from the trip. I am so happy to announce that BIG JIMS WALK FOUNDATION has teamed up with the STEVE RUMMLER HOPE NETWORK. This is SUPER BIG. We are actively starting to prepare to lobby state congress in North Carolina and Florida to get STEVES LAW passed identically in both those states but as well to have every state pass this law. This will bring NALOXONE to anyone lno questions asked. This is the MIRACLE SHOT FOR THE OPIOID USER. A person overdoses, is not breathing and is basically DEAD, this shot is administered and the victim given a couple of breathes and BADDA BING BADDA BOOM, they come back from the dead. Its a miracle shot. There is a lot more that come with it like complete immunity to the person that administers the shot and stays with the victim till emergency personnel show up on scene and many many other awesome benefits for this law… I highly recommend to everyone to google it, check it out, and support it… Thousands of lives can be saved…
The other highlight was the SERENITY VILLAGE COMMUNITY CHURCH with pastor JEFF… WOW!!! This pastor gets it, the church gets it, the neighborhood gets it… The church is open 7 days a week and is a church led by PASTOR JEFF, a self proclaimed CRACKHEAD. The church is so full of the spirit it is amazing… The recovery meeting is 400 strong that believe in PRAISING GOD FOR THEIR DELIVERANCE FROM ADDICTION… AMEN… Hope is the message. Grace is the motto. I LOVE THIS CHURCH… Check them out on line…they are off the hook…

I am happy to be able to start updating more often on here because I have switched to Sprint and now have HOT SPOT so I am able to work from my lap top…

Great things are happening friends. We are making a difference in peoples lives. I ask you to please consider getting involved with BIG JIMS WALK FOUNDATION. Help this grow so we can reach out and save more lives. Help us build free recovery programs all across America…

Thank you for your prayers, love and encouragement as well as your continued support…

God Bless
Big Jim

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