Some people tell Jeff Grabosky that he must be crazy for running across the United States, and he jokes that, yes, he probably is. They also ask him if he wants to be like Forrest Gump, and he says not really, but he is growing a beard. 

Then they ask him the most important question: Why are you doing it? 

“I’m praying for people as I run,” he told Our Sunday Visitor. “It started out as a personal goal, then it turned into doing something for others.” 

Grabosky, 28, is saying a decade of the Rosary for each request he receives. He hears from people by email on his phone and prays for each of their intentions as he runs toward his goal of arriving in Connecticut in late May. 

“The most frequent ones are prayers for other family members, like parents, children and spouses,” he said. “Family is very important. If you look at the news, you would think it’s not, but it seems to be the opposite.” 

Turning to prayer 

Grabosky was on middle and high school track teams, and at the University of Notre Dame he ran intramural cross country and finished his first marathon. His mother, Valerie, used to run casually, and she always took a rosary ring. She was 50 when she died from cancer in 2006. A week later, Grabosky’s wife left him. 

“You think you have a good life and then, all of a sudden, you find yourself very lost,” he said. “I always was a prayerful person, and prayer was the only thing I had to turn to. That’s how I went on with my life. I continued to pray for direction and never gave up. I never said that God doesn’t care. I always believed that God had a plan, and I stayed true to him and trusted him.” 

He was managing a running store in Washington, D.C., when he started planning the run. His 3,700-mile journey started Jan. 20 in Oceanside, Calif., and winds through the Southwest, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.  

People from all over the world have gotten in touch with him to encourage his journey and to ask for his prayers, which he said he finds humbling. 

“We have our own ideas about what we are asking for when we pray, but God’s plan is so much better than anything we can imagine. Just trust him and realize that it will work out for the best. That’s something I have learned.” 

Maryann Gogniat Eidemiller writes from Pennsylvania. Follow Grabosky’s journey at jeffrunsamerica.com.