LABELLE - Steve Fugate has walked across the U.S. eight times. He is known as the original “LOVE LIFE” guy, who has logged over 30,000 miles with his LOVE LIFE sign.
“Love Life so very much, so strongly, and so down right stubbornly, that no negatives will ever want to waste their time trying to break through the solid wall of Love you will have surrounding you,” Fugate said.
His motivation to walk across the country originally rose from Steve’s tragic loss of his son, to suicide, at the age of 26. Fugate carried the “LOVE LIFE” with a hope of “mending the broken heart while still beating”.
Tragedy struck Fugate again as he was finishing up a walk, where he learned that his daughter, who was suffering with MS, had died from an accidental overdose.
“Steve is inspired to share the love he would otherwise be sharing with his children with the people he meets, many of whom are deeply distressed either at a loss or are considering giving it all up. That is until they see his LOVE LIFE sign and strike up a conversation. He’s had people tell him that he’s come into their lives in person or interviews just as they were in the act of taking their life,” his Love Life website stated.
Recently, his foot travels had him walking through Clewiston, along US Highway 27.
“I started walking the United States of America with a “LOVE LIFE” sign over my head after finding out I lost my son to suicide at the halfway point of my attempt at a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. “LOVE LIFE” was chosen because it is the absolute opposite of suicidal thoughts. I want to save lives!” explained Fugate.
“I am now working with the FWC to help save the life of the Florida panther. For the past 21 years, I have walked to encourage others to not only stay alive but also, to LOVE LIFE. In 1970 I saw a picture of one of the 22 remaining Florida panthers in their only habitat and my home state, Florida. It changed my life. And in 2018 I had not only a rare but also the absolute honor, of seeing one in the wild. For 21 years I’ve helped the human species of animals hold onto their lives. And I still receive and respond to, calls and private messages of not only those in dire straits but also, those who’ve faced the horror of horrors of losing a child. I will NEVER stop doing that!!!! When one is suicidal my aim is to encourage them to fight back against their particular fear/pain and stay alive!” He added, “The Florida panther has fought back and possibly increased its numbers 10-fold? Not nearly enough to keep it from being America’s most endangered animal. This beautiful ‘big cat’ that has NEVER EVER harmed human beings, is fighting back and I’m going to help it fight back. I LOVE LIFE, help me save this gorgeous animal that has just as much right as we… to live life to its fullest. NOTE to my fellow Floridians: this is our state animal!”
Leaving Clewiston, after a heavy rain storm, locals began posting sightings of him on social media.
“I just spotted the Love Life Guy by Collingswood!” one LaBelle woman wrote.
Many were excited to see Fugate, as so many have been challenged the past year, with the pandemic. Fugate has also noticed the difference, “One thing I know for certain, there has been a much greater response to my beautiful “LOVE LIFE” sign since we got sucker-punched by COVID. More horn blowing, more waving, more thumbs-up, and more people stopping to ask what’s up. It’s a GREAT feeling believing that I am actually being instrumental in causing many of my fellow human beings to smile and to possibly help get their minds off the negatives and fear so prevalent in these times.”
He walked on from Clewiston to LaBelle, and continued updating his fans as he went, “Leaving the beautiful little town of Labelle this morning and taking Route 29 into Immokalee,” Fugate said. “Yesterday, a lady got out of her car and walked up to me with a whopper, fries and a coke.” He added, “A Florida trooper yelled out from his car, parked in the median with his thumb raised up and said, Thank you sir for what you’re doing, We all need to read your sign,” Fugate went on, “I answered, Thank you sir for what you’re doing. I’ve walked across this country eight times doing 47,000 miles and not one crossing could have been done without the help of law officers like yourself! I cannot count the number of times y’all have helped me.”
The countless stories of inspired strangers who stopped to talk, offer help, and express their gratitude for Fugate and his Love Life Walk continued. He walked on through LaBelle, and on into Immokalee and eventually Naples.
“Collier County Deputies, CSD Ahrens and Corporal Johnny Cisnero stopped to have their pictures taken with me. They asked over and over, did I need anything. They told me there was a Sheriff’s sub-station just up the road from me, and if I needed anything at all to stop and let them know,” Fugate reported, as he continued his journey.
For those interested in flowing Fugate, he has an official Love Life Walk Facebook page, where he posts frequent updates: https://www.facebook.com/LoveLifeWalk.