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Man dribbling soccer ball from Seattle to Brazil killed on highway

By Brad Lendon, CNN
updated 1:03 PM EDT, Wed May 15, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Richard Swanson wanted to fulfill his dream of heading to the World Cup
  • Swanson would dribble soccer ball to Brazil to raise money for charity
  • Supporters ask his ball be used to open World Cup in 2014

(CNN) -- At 42, Richard Swanson was without work, without kids at home, without a mortgage, but with a lot of time to ponder what matters.

"It gives you time to think of what you want out of life," he said in a YouTube video.

One thing he wanted, he said, was to watch soccer's World Cup, scheduled for summer 2014 in Brazil.

"I should just walk to the World Cup. ... Just take off out the door and start hoofing it and head south," he said in the video.

And then, "Since I'm going to the World Cup, I should honor it by dribbling a soccer ball." That would be more than 6,700 miles of dribbling, from his home in Seattle to Sao Paulo, Brazil.

He'd dribble a special, durable soccer ball, designed to give kids in poor countries something that they could play with for a long time, something that wouldn't break on rocky playgrounds or fields with sharp, thorny brush. People following his journey could donate to promote the program, One World Futbol Project said.

He started May 1.

His journey ended suddenly Tuesday when a pickup truck struck and killed him on U.S. 101 in Lincoln City, Oregon, about 250 miles south of Seattle.

His death was announced on a Facebook page, Breakaway Brazil, he set up to document his trek.

"It is with a heavy heart to notify you that Richard Swanson passed on this morning. His team, family, friends, and loved ones will miss him and love him dearly. You made it to Brazil in our hearts, Richard. Team Richard," the post said.

Supporters want the ball Swanson was dribbling to be in Brazil. Police said it was recovered from the accident scene.

"Someone should see to it that his ball makes it to the World Cup," Megan Cruz wrote on the page for Breakaway Brazil. "Maybe the first 'play' could be done with his ball, then returned to the family."

"First kick at 2014 WC should be with his blue ball," Peda Knezevic wrote under Swanson's YouTube video.

One World Futbol Project noted Swanson's death in a tweet and on its website.

"We are extremely saddened to hear the news about Richard. He was a very inspiring man, our thoughts are with his family," it said via Twitter.

Police are investigating the accident, and the driver of the pickup that hit Swanson was cooperating, according to reports from CNN affiliates KPTV-TV and KATU-TV in Oregon.

The Breakaway Brazil Facebook and the YouTube pages were filled Wednesday with tributes to Swanson from soccer fans around the world.

"Please know his death was not in vain, his story reached all corners of the world," wrote Rena Gerlach from Portland, Oregon.

"Your name will never be forgotten by my dear Brazil," wrote Vanessa Gonçalves.

There were postings in German and Portuguese. And posts from Japan and Canada.

And one was from Swanson's oldest son, Devin.

"You are an inspiration to all to continue doing what you love! One day ... I will continue your journey in your name!"

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