Real-Life Forrest Gump Runs to Promote Literacy

Forrest Gump (khegre / Flickr / CC / Cropped)
khegre / Flickr / CC / Cropped

A California man who is the real-life version of Forrest Gump, has spent the last 486 days running across America’s perimeter to promote literacy.

“I’m running around the country to promote literacy and fitness to kids everywhere,” Dennis Yang, 41, told local California news station KSBW News. “I share with them my joy of reading, living healthy and setting goals.”

I posted 13 photos on Facebook in the album “Day 486 Monterey to Gonzales CA. 29 Miles”

— Dennis Yang (@PapaDidosFdn) January 11, 2016

Yang, who has written several children’s books under the pseudonym Papa Didos, stops by children’s hospitals, orphanages and public schools to give these books away to kids over the course of his run. He reportedly runs about a marathon a day and has so far endured more than 10,000 miles on foot, spanning 34 states.

According to, Yang started his 11,000-mile journey, also known as the Great Reading Run, on August 25, 2014. He has nearly completed his goal and has just one state left to run through for his job across America’s perimeter.

He started his journey in Southern California on the Santa Monica Pier and ran along the southern border to Florida. In the movie, Forest Gump made the Santa Monica Pier an endpoint.

KSBW notes that Yang ran from Greenfield to King City on Sunday and is now headed back to Southern California, where it all began. He is keeping on track with reaching his final destination Jan. 30.

The rain pelted my face and obscured my field of vision. I just decided to run faster! #runningtheperimeter

— Dennis Yang (@PapaDidosFdn) January 11, 2016

Yang reportedly drew the inspiration for storytelling years ago, when he had experienced economic hardship that prevented him from seeing his adopted son. He kept in touch with his son by writing him letter,s which were told like stories that had underlying themes and values embedded in them, notes. He decided to take these messages and share them with children all over the world.

A journal of his experiences over the course of his journey have been logged on his personal website, Through his nonprofit, the Papa Didos Ideals Foundation, Yang has so far raised $10,000 of his $1,000,000 goal–money that he reportedly wishes to use provide more of his books to the children he visits.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz and on Facebook.