Comic walks across America to seek true cure for cancer


Staff writer

Alek Mario Waclawski of San Diego, Calif., may look like comedians Charlie Chaplain or Benny Hill as he walks across the continent, but he is serious about his message.

He was in Florence Friday.

He wants the American people to know that all the money in the world can't cure cancer, but that people themselves have the power, tools, and intelligence to do what is necessary to overcome.

Mario's message comes from personal experience. He was born in Poland and migrated to the United States in 1986 from Italy. When his wife was diagnosed with cervical cancer, the couple fought the disease for three years, going from doctor to doctor and treatment to treatment until she died.

During his wife's illness, Mario fought depression and found solace in music — learning to play the piano, harmonica, mandolin, guitar, and accordion.

After she died, he bought a bunch of second-hand fitness equipment and began exercising vigorously.

"The pain in my heart went away," he said. Music and exercise had helped him get through the ordeal.

But that wasn't enough. He needed a whole new beginning. So he and his three children moved to San Diego, where he opened up a coffee shop and named it the Hancock Café. He also got involved with other musicians.

Now, at age 50, he has begun a campaign to get the attention of the President. Calling it the Famous Benny Chaplin Walk-A-Thon, Mario walks approximately 20 miles a day. He began April 1 at San Diego and plans to be at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 11 to present his message: "Mr. President, we want a cure!"

Five weeks before beginning his journey, Mario sent certified letters explaining his mission to the President and all United States Congressmen and governors.

"I meet a lot of people who thank me for what I'm doing," he said.

When he's finished, he plans to write a book about "kindness and belief." He hopes his book will continue to spread the message that a cure for cancer is available if people will believe in themselves.