This Mother’s Day, Linda Losey is doing something special for her son, Sam. She’s riding horseback from California to Maryland.
Actually, May 8 will be the start of the sixth week of Losey’s trip, which began on March 29 and will take her about another eight months to complete the 4,600 mile journey, which brought her through Winslow last week.
“A year or so ago, my youngest, Sam, wanted to ride across country and at the time he was doing a lot of community service hours for a local horse rescue. Then he died in June and we just tabled it,” she said. “Back in December or so, we started to get sponsors interested and it came alive again.”
Sam, a 10-year-old that Losey, 42, described as a stellar student, a star athlete, a published poet, a budding song writer and an exhibiting artist, tragically died in an accident on June 22, 2004.
Losey, a mother of four including Sam, decided she would take the ride in his honor and at the same time raise money for the Sam Losey Memorial Scholarship Fund, Equine Rescue and Rehabilitation, Inc. (ERRI), a local horse rescue.
Losey planned to follow the American Discovery Trail, the only coast-to-coast non-motorized recreation trail. Covering 6,800 miles through 15 states, the trail winds through mountains, deserts, small towns and big cities to provide a glimpse of Americana.
However, the trail doesn’t include Arizona. Twenty-eight feet of snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains forced Losey to take the southern route. She plans to follow I-40 through New Mexico and rejoin the trail in Colorado.
“One of the hard parts about taking the southern route as opposed to the where we were originally planning was the lack of water,” she said.
But after a radio spot on KAFF in Flagstaff brought up this predicament, Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water donated bottles to Losey. It was one more sign of support for Losey who said the help she has received at nearly every stop so far has made a difficult trek a lot more bearable.
“It’s absolutely amazing, but the generosity of spirit has been absolutely, truly incredible,” she said. “I’m a stranger and people are just taking me in and treating me as if I’m family. I now can go into a town without crying, knowing that God’s going to take care of it, somebody certainly is and that’s been a blessing.”
Losey started the journey with her 13-year-old son, Peter. He barely made it out of California in one piece.
“He wanted to see America through Sam’s eyes, but he was thrown right before we left and then was stepped on on the trail, so he ended up walking through extremely treacherous parts of California for 35 miles with me,” she said. “Letting him go and sending him home was probably by far, emotionally the hardest thing.”
Her only companions now are Rocky, a 5-year-old Tennessee Walker (and Peter’s horse), and Val, a 6-year-old horse she rehabilitated at ERRI.
Losey covers about 20 miles a day at an average of 3 mph. She keeps a daily journal, which friends upload on her Web site www.americandiscoveryride.com that also includes a list of people she thanks for helping her on her ride.
Her destination is Chesapeake Bay in her home state of Maryland. She said the Governor and First Lady plan to meet with her in Annapolis and coworkers from ERRI will ride with her through the state.
She said she is considering retracing her steps when the ride is over to go back and personally thank everyone. But if she does, it would be by car so she can bring her children along.