ABOVE, Sebastien Jacques heads west on IL-15, just past Ashley on his way to Nashville on the afternoon of Thursday, June 8. Jacques is hiking from Virginia Beach through to Santa Monica, Calif. Jacques suffered through a long illness which turned out to be related to a benign tumor in his pineal gland. He will be meeting the doctor who helped to remove it, and wants to raise awareness and share his story. Jacques maintains a website at www.sebastienjacques.com, and has a presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as well. Jacques communicates with followers online and will even answer “questions of the day” and make posts about his 5,000 kilometer (about 3,000 miles) journey.
By Alex Haglund
Sebastien Jacques, walking through Washington County and Nashville on his way from Virginia to California on Thursday, June 8, has had a long journey.
Yes, he’s traveled more than 900 miles already, but his journey really started back in 2011, when the Quebecois native of Magog, Montreal, was a senior at Virginia Tech playing on the tennis team. He began to feel a pressure in his head, he would get exhausted easily, and he lost a lot of weight – and it was due to a benign tumor located in the pineal gland of his brain.
Ultimately, surgeon Dr. Daniel Kelly of Santa Monica, Calif., agreed to perform the risky surgery to remove the tumor. Jacques was told that there was some chance that he wouldn’t live through it, but given his physical deterioration, Jacques elected to go through with it, and fortunately, it was a complete success.
Now, Jacques destination for his long, long walk is Santa Monica, where he plans to thank Dr. Kelly for what he did, in person.
Why walking? When Jacques was at his most afflicted, he wasn’t physically able to do much, but he could walk – for about 15 minutes per day. Now, he makes a pace of more than 15 miles per day, and he’s sharing his story along the way.
The sharing, the storytelling, making friends both in person and online, is the part of the trip Jacques speaks most excitedly about.
Jacques referred to folks who have been communicating with him on his website or over social media losing weight, quitting bad jobs, and in general, learning to follow their dreams after seeing his example.
During his Thursday walk from Mt. Vernon to Nashville, The Nashville News started getting calls about Jacques when he was still in Jefferson County, and we caught up with him just outside of Ashley, near where US-51 heads south from IL-15.
Along with telling a little bit of his story, Jacques stated that he didn’t yet have a place to stay in town. While he sometimes camps or stays at a motel, often Jacques finds local people who give him a place to sleep for the night. Following the initial story being posted to Facebook, Jacques found a host for the evening in Nashville when the Blazier family had him at their home.
After leaving the next morning, Jacques headed to Sparta, then crossed over into Missouri from Chester on Sunday, June 11, and is continuing west as of the time this story was written.