HADDON TOWNSHIP, N.J. - While walking across the Ben Franklin Bridge in 90 degree weather isn’t something most people would want to do, it was light work for Tom Turcich, after all he’s been through. On Saturday his World Walk came to an end where it all started, and what a journey it has been. Turcich traveled 18,000 miles across 33 countries over the last seven years.
He didn’t have much with him for the trip, but he brings home wisdom that he’s collected around the world and a central ideology he picked up everywhere he went.
"People are good everywhere, people are the same everywhere," Turcich said as he walked down Haddon Avenue.
With his tent and his dog Savannah, he’s experienced how people all over the world live. Through the elements, they persevered. Thousands of people helped, walked and shared with him along the way.
"The end is very surreal because it’s something I’ve thought about happening for so long," he said.
Tom Turcich greets well-wishers as he and his dog walk the last few miles towards his home.
The anticipation of his return could be felt all along Haddon Ave. Friends and family joined him along his last few miles. People stopped their cars to cheer and support him. And, hundreds of people showed up for the hometown heroe’s welcome home party at The Taproom Bar and Grill.
As Turcich walked through the threshold at the end of the road, he took a moment to reflect before addressing the crowd.
"It feels like it’s been 20 years for me. I’m going to get a beer and then I’ll give a little more cohesive talk."
For his mother, Catherine Turcich, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster, though the load lightened by the fact that she’s got a good son who checked in often.
"We just started going along for the ride," she said. "’Where are you today and who did you meet today? Where did you sleep last night? How’s Savannah what is she doing, what is she eating?’"
Savannah is his four-legged companion he picked up along the way. Now seven-years-old, she joined him in Austin, Texas before heading through Mexico.
A life on the road is all she’s ever known.
"We spend every minute of every day together. She’s a great companion and I couldn’t have asked for anything more," Tom said.
He started this journey after losing two close friends named Ann Marie and Shannon.
Philadelphia Sign owner Bob Mehmet’s kids went to school with them. He sponsored Tom’s journey and committed a dollar for every mile walked to scholarships in Ann Marie and Shannon’s name.
"I listened to his story and I still thought to myself there’s no way he’s going to do it. We talked a little more and I said you know what I’ll take a chance on him," said Mehmet.
And now there’s life outside the walk.
Tom Turcich hugs his dad while his mom looks on after arriving home from his seven-year journey.
His father, Tom Sr., was beaming with pride as he talked about his son.
"When he left, he was just this dumb kid and now he’s come back as a smart, elegant, young man," Tom Sr. said.
His community is happy to have him home. The two feet and four paws are ready to rest and share what they’ve learned.
"People are good everywhere," Tom said."People want to make a little money and spend time with their family and that’s universal."
Tom’s looking forward to sleeping in a bed he can call his own with a roof over his head again.
He’s going to work on a memoir and he and Savannah are going to get some much deserved rest.
Tom has more information about his journey on his website.