Couple crossing U.S. on horse and buggy stop in Heartland - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Couple crossing U.S. on horse and buggy stop in Heartland

(Source: Mike Mohundro/KFVS) (Source: Mike Mohundro/KFVS)

Rodger Howell set off across the country on a horse and buggy in 2013 and hasn't looked back since.

"If I didn't change my lifestyle, I had five weeks to live," Howell said. "So I took off on a horse and buggy and that was July of 2013."

Howell has Agent Orange, which has caused him a lot of difficulties, including several surgeries involving his heart as well as problems with his kidneys.

Agent Orange was one of the herbicides and defoliants used by the U.S. Military as part of an experimental warfare program during the Vietnam War.

"I worked a bulldozer and it's killing us," Howell said.

So, he decided to venture out and see the countryside. 


Simply because he can.

Howell and his soon-to-be wife Karen Otto were traveling about two miles per hour through Cape Girardeau on Saturday morning when they stopped to let their horses rest.

His destination?

"To be determined," Howell said.

While he was stopped, a man came by to thank him for his service and also to ask why he decided to travel with his horses.

The man was touched enough by the story that he handed Howell $20 to help him out on his trip.

The money went into a canister, with the other money the couple has collected throughout the trip.

The man who stopped by decided to add to the many signatures and sign Howell's covered wagon, as well. This was one of more than a hundred signatures of people who have signed the wagon throughout Howell and Otto's travels across the eastern half of the United States.

One particular section of signatures is particularly special to the couple, though.

"All handicapped adults," Howell said. "They stopped us in a little town in the crossroads and said will you come over and let the patients see your wagon and horses? Sure!"

Howell and Otto are stopped by many along their trip by people who end up giving them money for their travels.

"When people do give us money, we don't keep a dime," Karen Otto said.

Instead, they take that money and spread it out to those who they come across that are in need.

"We gave away over $7,000," Howell said.

"Since the first of July," Otto added.

The couple also stopped in Anna, Illinois along their travels where they donated money towards a women's shelter and an animal rescue.

Howell said he won't stop traveling, at least for now, and the only thing that could stop him would be Otto, or until he just can't physically do it any longer.

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