Skateboarding trip: less fun, more fundraiser

On day 55 of his journey, Darrian Balongie stopped in Newport Beach to rest and change out his longboard, which had begun to crack from his sometimes rough coast-to-coast voyage.

With a 40-pound backpack and bass guitar strapped to his back, the Memphis, Tenn., resident was on the tail end of skateboarding 4,300 miles from New York City to San Diego to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

St. Jude has a special spot in Balongie's heart: It's the hospital that treated his young cousin so well in the months before his death from acute myelogenous leukemia.

"He was diagnosed with leukemia before his first birthday and didn't make it to his second," Balongie, 24, said. "I'm making this trip for him."

Since July 21, Balongie has traveled between 60 and 90 miles per day, starting at 8 a.m. and riding until the sun goes down, stopping only to eat and sleep.

"I eat a lot burning 8,000 to 12,000 calories a day," he said.

He has spent about $1,000 of his own money to make the journey.

The most difficult part was skateboarding through the desert and dealing with the humidity in Arkansas, he said. The lack of available showers posed a challenge as well.

"I brush my teeth outside, but sometimes it's four, five or six days before I can shower," he said. "It's pretty gross. I don't enjoy it."

Still, with some help from various sponsors, he plans to continue on. He has raised $3,175 for St. Jude's as of Friday, according to his donation site.

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital focuses on advancing cures and preventing pediatric diseases through research and treatment, according to its website.

His Facebook page, Long Trek for St. Jude, includes information and photos chronicling his expedition. Balongie's goal is to raise $10,000 by the end of his journey, according to his fundraising website.

To donate, visit

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