Before he was killed last night in the gathering darkness on State Road A1A, Jigme Norbu had walked or biked 7,800 miles to support his people in Tibet.
Norbu, 45, the nephew of the Dalai Lama, lived in Indiana but traveled all over the country raising awareness about the suffering of the Tibetan people under Chinese rule. Yesterday, he was beginning a 300-mile Valentine's Day "Walk for Tibet" trek from St. Augustine to West Palm Beach when he was hit by an SUV.
After walking all day, some of the other participants hopped in a van to scout out the path ahead and find dinner. But Norbu insisted on walking the last two miles alone, according to a blog on the organization's website.
"For the cause", he said and refused to get in the car. So we went ahead to wait for him for dinner and to meet the next group of supporters who had appeared. We got the call from a Trooper- "Your friend has been struck by a vehicle and He is deceased."
Norbu is survived by his wife and three young children. He had already completed many similar walks, including 900 miles from Indianapolis to New York in 2009.
In this video, filmed after he finished a 600-mile walk last year, Norbu explained how he had the stamina to keep going.
"My heart and determination's with my cause, my people," he said. "I think that it's shown to the public, shown to the world, that if you put your mind to something, you can accomplish it."
UPDATE: Donna Kim-Brand, a supporter who was accompanying Norbu on the trek, says she and Wangchuk Dorjee, a former Tibetan member of Parliament, will continue their walk to West Palm Beach. She wrote on the site WalkForTibetFlorida.com:
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Once we regroup and handle the difficult immediate tasks, probably tomorrow we will continue southward along the Florida coast spreading the message of World Peace, Human Compassion & Tibetan Independence as Jigme had desired. We will adapt the number of miles walked to our circumstances, perhaps walking and driving in combination until we reach West Palm Beach.
The group originally planned to finish their trek at the Ann Norton Sculpture Garden in West Palm on February 26.
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