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Vero Beach man spreads message of love one step at a time

Posted at 6:35 PM, Feb 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 18:35:01-05

Some people are always on the move.

“I’ve done 47,000 miles of the U.S. on foot in the past 21 years,” said Steve Fugate of Vero Beach.

“You know I really do love life,” said Fugate.

He started with the Appalachian Trail in 1999 until tragedy struck.

"I got halfway on the trail and for reasons we’ll never fully understand, my son took his own life," he said.

Fugate grieved for several months back home before completing the trail with a renewed drive and new purpose… to mend his broken heart while it is still beating.

"I was walking to talk to people to make them love life and not take their own life like my son did," he said.

His walks continued past the trail Appalachian trail to all across the U.S. six times over.

While on the road, he recently found another inspiration for his travels, preserving the endangered Florida panther.

“One of the most endangered in the whole world, I mean, that’s something to think about,” said Fugate.

We caught up with him at one of his walk’s pit stops at Palm Beach Zoo, where he met Sassy the Florida panther.

Fugate said, “I started crying that’s what was going through my mind. To get to see this one in particularly one that’s been saved and it’s gonna spend her life out here it just touches my heart.”

Tiger Keeper at Palm Beach Zoo, Janice Hudson, said, “This man literally started crying had tears when he met her. He appreciates us and we appreciate him.”

The way Fugate sees it panthers lives are just as important as any other person's. His big heart resonated with zoo staff.

“He has so much love even after the things he’s been through in his life,” says Hudson.

Even through the pandemic Fugate has made friends on the road, spreading his message of love and preservation in a time when we need it the most.

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