Johnson City

Woman walking across America stops in Tri-Cities

There is a woman walking across America from Seattle, Wash. to Savannah, Ga. for the organization Beads of Courage.

Stacie Eichinger passed through Northeast Tennessee this weekend and told us she's faced all of the elements while here.

Eichinger has been pushing a cart of supplies and carrying a special string of beads on her trip.

Beads of Courage helps children get through their illnesses by using beads, instead of stickers, as a reward when they go through treatment.

"The first time they get a shot, they get a black bead," she said. "Chemotherapy, they get a white bead."

Eichinger volunteered with Beads of Courage before she had even thought of her walk.

"I started planning it for a few months and once I realized how much energy it was going to take, the scope of it, I was like this is huge, why not walk for something?," she told us.

She knew Beads of Courage had to be her cause, Eichinger said.

Eichinger walked the 23 mile distance between Kingsport and Johnson City on Sunday. She told us it would take her eight and a half hours.

Eichinger didn't have to push her cart on Sunday though because someone offered to drive it there for her.

"It's just people are amazing," she said. "So many people out there just want to help."

Eichinger's walk is 3,800 miles and she's walked all of it so far. She told us that if she gets a ride to someone's house for a night's stay, she has them take her back to where they picked her up.

"My legs never hurt anymore," she said. "My legs never get sore. My feet just get tired."

All of this is to raise $38,000 for Beads of Courage.

Eichinger told News 5 that road work makes it tough but it's better than rain, like she had on Saturday.

"I was getting splashed with nasty water from the road and sprayed in the face and that was just miserable," she said.

Eichinger had to stop her walk about five miles early and it wasn't the first time she's had setbacks.

She was in Indiana when the tornadoes struck a couple of weeks ago. She told us they missed her by only 10 miles but she was undeterred.

"It's cold and wet," she said. "I'm covered in mud. It snowed earlier and who wants to be outside in this but then I think about them and I'm like well sure I can get a ride to the hotel and be nice and warm right now but they can never say, 'Oh, I don't want to do this today.'"

Eichinger will make a hospital visit in Johnson City on Monday to hand out her own beads, little walking shoes.

She told us Tennessee is the 13th state she's walked through. She hit the 3,000 mile marker when she got to Tazewell.

Eichinger tells us she expects to get to Savannah in February, 2014.

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