Rotund Challengers return home to WNY

Jason Rogers, Joe Cooke, and Chris Cooke arrived home from their cross-country walking journey Tuesday morning.

DEPEW, N.Y. (WIVB)- Buffalo’s Rotund Challengers are finally home, after almost a year.

Jason Rogers, Joe Cooke and Chris Cooke hoofed it for 2,700 miles and braved an 80+ hour train ride back home to Western New York Tuesday morning.

“They started by walking around the block. Then they started walking, you know, five, six miles a day,” said Chris and Joe’s Aunt, Cherrie Lovett.

Those walks around the block turned into something much bigger: The Rotund Challenge.

“I was going to get gastric bypass surgery, and me and Chris were doing walks around the neighborhood. I had to lose some weight for that,” Jason told News 4.

“On one of those walks I said it’d be cool to walk across the country instead of doing the same thing.”

The three friends set out May 17 of last year. They left their jobs, created a Go Fund Me, and surprised a lot of their friends and family, who weren’t sure if they’d go through with it.

“He looks different. He looks tan, he’s lost a lot of weight, but he looks confident,” said Jason’s Aunt, Grace Luterek.

At his heaviest, Jason was approaching 500 lbs. He was down 65 at his last weigh-in, but it wasn’t just the lost pounds that made the trip worth while.

“Sights-wise, Flint Hills in Kansas, pretty beautiful. New Mexico, the mountains were just great,” Jason said.

Between the three of them, they went through almost 36 pairs of shoes.

“The first four days my feet were bleeding a little bit, blisters all over both feet,” Chris said.

The goal now, is continue living a healthy lifestyle; but after a 4300K? They’re allowed a little cheating, and a lot of rest. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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