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Richard Swanson Didn't Reach Brazil, But He Found An Audience

Richard Swanson, who died in Oregon Tuesday, has inspired an outpouring of condolences as his story of walking to Brazil for charity has inspired those who learn about it.
Richard Swanson, who died in Oregon Tuesday, has inspired an outpouring of condolences as his story of walking to Brazil for charity has inspired those who learn about it.

Hundreds of condolences are appearing online for Richard Swanson, the Seattle man whose plan to dribble a soccer ball all the way to Brazil to raise money for charity ended Tuesday after he was struck and killed by a pickup truck in Oregon. Many see his story as an inspiration, and say they'll continue his charity work.

"It is with a heavy heart to notify you that Richard Swanson passed on this morning," reads an update announcing Swanson's death on the Facebook page for his project, Breakaway Brazil, yesterday.

"His team, family, friends, and loved ones will miss him and love him dearly. You made it to Brazil in our hearts, Richard."

Swanson's trek to Brazil was a charity undertaking to benefit One World Futbol Project, which donates a durable blue soccer ball to a variety of needy communities, in war zones and impoverished areas, for every ball purchased on its site.

Condolences are pouring in on Swanson's page, as people in the U.S., Brazil, and other nations express their admiration for his goal of walking thousands of miles to Sao Paolo, in the hopes that he would make it there in time for next year's World Cup. Some also say they're making donations in his honor.

One of Swanson's two sons, Devin, wrote on the announcement, "We love you dad.. with all our hearts! You are a inspiration to all to continue doing what you love! One day .. I will continue your journey in your name!"

The page also features photos of Swanson, posing for pictures with the friends he made along the way. He began his journey earlier this month.

Swanson, who was 42, uploaded a video to YouTube shortly before his death. In it, he celebrates making it to Lincoln City, on Oregon's Pacific coastline, where he walked along the beach with his shoes off.

"'Very exciting moment today,' he says. 'Going to be on the ocean for thousands of miles. This is my first taste of it and I'm very excited about it.' The video ends with Swanson kicking the ball into the surf."

"Someone should get that ball and finish the journey," the top-rated comment on the video reads.

The driver of the vehicle that struck Swanson remained at the scene and has cooperated with authorities, according to reports.

On Facebook, Swanson identified himself as an "avid runner, soccer player, and all around lover of the Pacific Northwest."

"He was at a point in his life where he had raised his kids," a friend of Swanson's, Kristi Schwesinger, tells the AP. "Both his boys (Devin and Raven) 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.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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