08/20/2012 10:27 EDT | Updated 10/20/2012 05:12 EDT

Former Homeless Man Walks From Calgary To Vancouver

Push For Change/Facebook

A man from Coquitlam, B.C., is pushing a shopping cart from Calgary to Vancouver in the hopes of raising awareness for at-risk youth.

Joe Roberts left Calgary on July 1, tracing his way through the Rocky Mountains. He arrived in Mission, B.C., on Sunday after trekking more than 1,000 kilometres along the busy TransCanada Highway.

As a teenager in the 1980s, Roberts became addicted to drugs and left home, living under the Georgia Street viaduct in downtown Vancouver.

“I came from a really good family and I was one of those kids that never thought I would grow up and become a statistic in one of the poorest postal codes in Canada,” he said.

Roberts says he finally got a break from the Salvation Army, ultimately kicking his drug habit, reconnecting with his parents and going back to school.

“Within about 10 or 12 years, I went from being a kid that pushes a shopping cart around the Downtown Eastside to being on the cover of some of the biggest Canadian magazines as being a celebrated entrepreneur,” he said.

Hope for at-risk kids

Roberts became the CEO of a multimedia development company and is now a motivational speaker.

He says the journey is all about giving back.

“If there is one thing we want to teach through this trek and through the push for change is that there simply is more to you if you have the courage to take that next step forward.”

Roberts will end his journey in Vancouver later this week. “Sort of the symbolic thing I guess that is in the cart is hope — hope and possibilities for kids at-risk,” he said.

Roberts plan to take his shopping cart to Newfoundland in May, where he’ll begin a cross-country trek for the cause.

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