Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Car kills marathon ball dribbler

A man trying to dribble a soccer ball 10,000 miles from the US to Brazil in time for the 2014 World Cup has been killed by a car just a fortnight after setting off.

Police in Lincoln City, Oregon, said 42-year-old Richard Swanson was hit while walking near the city. The driver has not been charged. Police said Mr Swanson's soccer ball was recovered.

Mr Swanson set out from Seattle on the trek to promote the One World Futbol Project which donates durable soccer balls to people in developing countries.

"We are deeply saddened to learn about Richard's death," Lisa Tarver, chief operating officer of the One World Futbol Project, said. "He was a very inspiring man who in a very short time walked his way into many lives. Our thoughts are with his family."

Kristi Schwesinger, a friend, said he had been a private investigator for many years, and switched to a new career as a graphic designer, but was laid off recently, and looking for an adventure.

"He was at a point in his life where he had raised his kids," she said. "Both his boys had graduated from high school. He had no mortgage. He had sold his condo recently and was between jobs. And he loved the game of soccer," she said. "He stumbled on this great organization, One World Futbol, and decided this would be his passion the next year."

In an interview with The Daily News in Longview, Washington state, Mr Swanson said he picked up soccer just five years ago and played on club teams and supported for the Seattle Sounders. "I felt destined that I should go on this trip," he said.

He left Seattle on May 1, and estimated the trip would take him on foot for more than a year through 11 countries before reaching Sao Paolo, Brazil, where the World Cup soccer tournament will be played. "It will be a trip of a lifetime where I will push myself further than I ever thought possible," he said.

Swanson started out in flip-flops, and managed to spend 13 nights but switched to hiking sandals. He stayed two nights in with his son but otherwise had been able to sleep on the couches of one stranger after another who befriended him and helped him on his journey.

"It was all by word of mouth, Facebook, media contacts, friends and family who put the word out," Ms Schwesinger said.

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