BILLINGS — From Florida to Washington, that’s how far one Oregon man is walking through rain and snow, for a cause that’s near to his heart. Peter Lilly is walking to raise money for cancer research, and he made a stop in the Magic City along the way.
Lilly may be a long way from home in Oregon, but for him, home isn’t a destination.
“Home is where your heart is,” said Lilly at Roots Garden Center on Sunday.
Right now, home for Lilly is on a 3000-mile trek on foot from Florida all the way to Washington, all for a cause that started nine years ago.
“Nine years ago, my dad died of brain cancer and I was incapable mentally of keeping the same level of employment that I had,” Lilly said.
He said that hiking helped him deal with the grief of his father’s death and decided to hike along the West Coast when something unexpected happened along the way.
“People were donating to cancer research centers or whatever as I was doing this hike,” said Lilly.
Folks donated over $20,000 in funds towards Lilly’s cause back then. Fast forward to 2022 and another tragedy occurred.
“After my grandma died of brain cancer, they thought it was Alzheimer’s for three years and I knew, I was the only one that knew ‘cuz I was really close to my dad,” Lilly said.
Now he’s on another trek, one that started last year, hoping to raise even more money for cancer research.
“Been walking ever since May and stayed in Casper and Douglas, Wyoming for the winter,” said Lilly.
He stays at friends’ houses and picks up work along the way. He arrived in Billings just four days ago and will be going to Bozeman on Wednesday. He said traveling from city to city isn’t the easiest task.
“Every time I set off and leave a city, it’s gut-wrenching,” Lilly said.
But the goal to raise money for cancer research helps him keep on trekking.
“My dad, you know if he heard I was doing this, he’d be like yup, that’s my son. I believe it, that’s totally him,” said Lilly.
And he keeps the memories of his father and grandmother with him along the way.
“My grandma, she always said you can do anything you put your mind to. I’m not saying that about everybody, but you can,” Lilly said.
If you’re interested in keeping up with Lilly’s journey, you can visit his Facebook or Instagram. To donate to his cause for cancer research, visit his GoFundMe page.