Josh Stewart runs in the 2018 Crescent City Classic in New Orleans. Stewart, who grew up in Patterson, plans to run 2,034 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica, California, beginning June 1, 2019, while raising money for charities. (Courtesy of MarathonFoto)

Stewart to run 2,000 miles for charities

Josh “Smoove” Stewart will embark on the run of a lifetime next June, hoping to inspire others along the way.

On June 1, 2019, Stewart, 34, who grew up in Patterson and graduated from Patterson High School, will start a 2,034-mile run at the beginning of Route 66 in Chicago and plans to finish 90 days later in Santa Monica, California.

“I woke up one morning, and I just had a dream about it. I had a dream that I was running on Route 66,” Stewart said.

“It just came to my heart that it was something that I wanted to do for myself, of course, but more so to show people that you can do anything you put your mind to,” he said.

Stewart, a personal trainer who now lives in New Orleans, will also be running to raise money for several charities. He’s open to suggestions of charities to support.

So far, he plans to raise funds for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which fights for racial justice and civil rights, The Childhood Obesity Foundation, which is dedicated to identifying, evaluating and promoting best practices in healthy nutrition and physical activity to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity, and The Up Community, an organization Stewart helped start that strives to make communities a safer and more educational place for children and generations to come.

Stewart is seeking donations and sponsorships from any businesses or corporations that are willing to help. He’s looking to raise money to cover the expenses of his trek, but most of the funds raised will go toward charities, he said.

The past three years have already been quite the journey for Stewart. He once weighed 287 pounds and was 260 pounds when he decided to dedicate himself to a healthier lifestyle on Sept. 27, 2015. He now weighs about 175 pounds.

One day, Stewart decided he wanted to look better and free himself of all chronic diseases so he started putting in the work and eating better.

“I realized that it’s all about how you feel and not about how you look,” he says on his website.

“Where I’m from the food culture is taken very serious,” Stewart said. “We grew up eating foods that were very fatty, heavily seasoned, and mostly fried, so for many years I was ignorant to what a healthy, balanced diet really was!”

A little over a year later, he began eating a vegan diet and never went back. When he started getting into the diet, he started feeling better and lighter on his feet. He says that led him to start running more and participating in his first 5k race.

After he completed the race, he was blown away by his finishing time. At that moment, he knew “it was meant for me to find this passion for so many reasons,” he says on his website.

He’s among just 1.6 percent of African-Americans who participate in racing competitions in America. He hopes to one day increase that statistic by 10 percent.

For more on Stewart’s journey, visit teamsuperyou.com/run-smoove-run/

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