A journey of a lifetime

Photo submitted – Jim Downs of Florida is completing a 2,300-mile journey up the East Coast in an effort to bring awareness to addiction and addiction recovery. The former drug addict began his trek Feb. 1 and plans to complete it Sept. 30 in Niagara Falls, New York. Downs recently passed through Elk County on his journey north.
Amy Cherry
Staff Writer

By the end of this week Jim Downs of Florida will have trekked the east coast in an effort to bring awareness to addiction and recovery, all while relying on his newly found faith as evident in the large wooden cross he carries with him.
Dubbed as Big Jim's Walk, Downs passed through Elk County last week traveling along route 219.
On Feb. 1 Downs began his journey north which he plans to conclude on Sept. 30 in Niagara Falls, N.Y., a date marking the conclusion of National Recovery Month.
At age 48, Downs has been battling addiction for the past 34 years. He started smoking marijuana at age 12 and drinking at age 14.
Throughout his 2,300 mile journey Downs has traveled through Florida, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York, stopping only for essentials of food, water, a place to sleep, and "a soul to save".
On average Downs walks between 10-20 miles a day.
During his brief visit in Ridgway he met up with Sheriff Todd Caltagarone and District Attorney Shawn McMahon, both of whom he said were very open to hearing about new methods of dealing with addiction.
Among those methods proposed by Downs are peer-to-peer engagement regarding addiction.