Denver man rollerblading across country to raise money for kids in need

Posted at 10:52 PM, Jul 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-02 10:05:39-04

Mike Lempko has been on his feet a lot this summer.

"I live out of my backpack and these rollerblades right now," he told News5 Sports.

Since late May, he’s been rolling through dozens of cities and towns–starting in San Francisco.

His goal is to rollerblade across the entire country, by the end of September.

Having played hockey his entire life, this has been an idea Lempko has been married to for a while now.

He saved money for the last year and a half, and even quit his job at the Denver Post, to make the excursion possible.

"I thought, ‘they do it all the time on bicycles.  Why not try it on rollerblades?!’"

Lempko admits Day 1 was a shock to the system.

"I thought the honeymoon would last for a few days.  But 25 miles in, it was 97 degrees in California.  I was climbing this hill and I thought, ‘oh my goodness, what have I gotten myself into?!"

But he’s never considered calling it quits.

"I’m committed to doing it so there’s no option to not do it."

That’s because he’s raising money on his trip for a non-profit called No Kid Hungry, which–among many of its services–provides breakfast and lunches for kids in need, year round.

The 26-year-old experienced real hunger for the first time, along his rollerblading route.

"There are a lot of days where I’m super hungry and have to go rollerblading–and there’s no food for a really long time."

But for 1 in 6 U.S. children, they face hunger every day.

It’s a statistic that’s motivated Lempko to push through even the toughest days.

The roads are unforgiving and, at times, dangerous.

"Definitely one or two close encounters with some semi trucks.  We’ll leave it at that.  They were close encounters and they definitely put the fear of God into me."

The hot temperatures and merciless wind finally caught up with Lempko in Wyoming.

"The highway was a little sketchier.  It was a lot of big hills and the trucks got really close in Wyoming.  I was on the interstate–on 80.  So I definitely lost my marbles a few days out in Wyoming.  I was throwing on Christmas music on the really hot days, just to put myself in a winter mindset," Lempko told News5 Sports.

As far as his typical playlist out on the road…

"I’m not ashamed to admit I love the Moana soundtrack," Lempko said with a grin.

"I also listen to ‘You Sexy Thing,’ by Hot Chocolate a lot," he added.

Lempko says his week of rest in Colorado has given him new life on this route.  He  got back on the road Thursday morning.

So far, he’s traveled nearly 1,400 miles.  That’s about 1/3 of the entire route, though.

Lempko says if all goes well, he’ll make it to Brooklyn–his final destination–by late September.

For more information on how to get involved, click here.

You can also follow Mike’s adventure on Instagram, by searching for the IG name: mikeonblades.

If you’d like to learn more about No Kid Hungry, click here.