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Writer Walking Barefoot Across U.S. Fatally Struck By SUV

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The writer and activist Mark Baumer posted this thought about his 94th day crossing America barefoot. It's amazing how often we all forget this is the only opportunity we are ever going to have to live this life. Baumer was raising money to raise awareness about climate change. He blogged and posted videos talking about everything from canned beans to politics.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

On his 101st day, Saturday, January 21, he was killed when an SUV swerved off the road onto the shoulder and hit him. He was 33 years old.

SHAPIRO: Claire Donato was Mark Baumer's friend and fellow writer. They both received MFAs in writing from Brown University. Mark's unusual undertakings, like crossing the country barefoot, didn't surprise her at all.

CLAIRE DONATO: I was more amused and delighted I think then surprised, could just always expect very grand gestures from him. And that's what I loved about him.

SHAPIRO: She also admired the clarity of thought in his writing.

DONATO: I feel like there's a clearness that I think is tethered to his meditative practices. Mark meditated twice a day and did a lot of yoga. And I think that allowed him to really cut to language's root as part of his writing process.

SIEGEL: This was his second venture by foot across the U.S. His first was in 2010. He finished the whole trip in 81 days and wrote a book about it called "I Am A Road."

JIM BAUMER: It is a phenomenal book. I mean I read a lot of books. I read 50, 60 books a year. And it was one of the best books I've read in a long time.

SIEGEL: That's Jim Baumer, Mark's father.

BAUMER: The way he took that trip and sort of reframed it in his own unique way and in a narrative - it was just such a wonderful read.

SHAPIRO: Jim Baumer says since Mark's death, there has been an enormous outpouring of support from people representing every aspect of his eclectic life.

BAUMER: I guess is difficult, and as raw as this time feels, these, you know, just compassionate, empathetic things that people are doing to reach out to us as his parents just brings a little bit of light into a very dark time in our lives.

SIEGEL: Jim Baumer and his wife, Mary, lost their son Mark Baumer this past Saturday. He was 33 years old, a performance artist, writer and activist.

(SOUNDBITE OF ODD NOSDAM SONG, "ROOT BARK") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.