The Chicago pastor on a walk through America to raise funds for a Woodlawn Community Center reached Gary, Ind. Friday, four pairs of shoes deep and $50,000 richer.
Pastor Corey Brooks has made it about a third of the way through his New York City to Los Angeles trek, and though he's only raised $50,000 out of the $15 million he needs to build a community center across from his New Beginnings Church in Woodlawn, his faith in the people around him has only gotten stronger.
"We've met so many wonderful people in places that you could not even imagine. They've taken us into their home. They've fed us. They've given us hotel stays. They've given us money for the building," said Brooks. "So it's been a wonderful, wonderful trip and it has definitely, definitely increased my faith."
The trip is not over yet, though.
In the next three months, by the pastor's hopeful Los Angeles arrival date Oct. 15, Brooks hopes to raise the rest of the $15 million. He said Friday that he is hopeful that his momentum in Gary and Chicago will jumpstart the fundraising. He added that a little help from the mayor and governor wouldn't hurt.
"I'm hoping that with the mayor's influence and the governor's influence that it will take us to another level in reaching people that we would not normally be able to reach," the New Beginnings Church pastor said.
Brooks announced his intention to trek across the nation in May, after spending three months camping on the roof of the dilapidated building where he hopes to build. He started his journey at the beginning of June.
Despite knee problems and other road bumps, the pastor is focusing on what matters most: the community center.
"We're attempting to build not just something for the South Side of Chicago, but we're building a prototype, a model, something that will work to enhance and change the lives of young people," the pastor explained. "We've walked through heat. We've walked through rain. We've walked through rejection. We've walked through food poisoning. And we're going to continue to walk all the way until we get to Los Angeles."