Steve Simoff doesn’t clock into work at Lakeside Casino, where he works as a janitor, until 11 p.m., but his daily commute begins nearly eight hours earlier.
At 3:30 p.m., Simoff leaves his basement apartment in Davis City, Mo. to walk the 35 miles to his job in Osceola, Iowa. He walks along Interstate Highway 35 in the hopes that he will be able to hitch a ride with one of his many “road friends” he has gotten to know over the years of walking to work.
Simoff makes this daily trek so that he can support his wife, Renee, who has undergone treatment for numerous health problems in the last decade, and their grandson, Steven III, whom the couple adopted.
"First of all, when you got a family, and you've got a job, you've got to be able to support your family. And you've got to keep your job — the most two important things I can think of," Simoff told the Des Moines Register.
His story mirrors that of James Robertson in Detroit, whose 21 mile commute made national headlines and motivated a college student to raise $350,000 via a Kickstarter campaign to fund a car, gas, and insurance.
Unlike Robertson, Simoff does have a car, a 2002 Ford Windstar minivan, but gas is a luxury he can rarely afford.
But Simoff’s community often helps him on his way.
"Everybody in the county knows him as far as I know," said Herbert Muir, who has been the sheriff of Decatur County for 17 years. Muir and his officers have given Simoff rides to work in the past. "There's no danger about him or anything. He's personable. He's not been in trouble. He just walks."
On average he walks four hours a day to get to work and is able to get a ride, at least part way, three out of five days during his work week. Simoff opts for a route that is longer, but with heavier traffic, to increase the chances of getting a lift, even for just a few miles.
Lately he has been able to get rides home from co-workers who live in nearby towns. "He's dedicated, and he works his buns off," casino employee Julio Camacho said of Simoff. "If I see him, I pick him up.”
While many in the community are impressed by Simoff's hard work and perseverance, particularly his grandson, who considers his grandfather his hero, he remains humble.
“If I don't get to work, bills don't get paid,” Simoff said. “As long as my two feet are good and my health is good, I don't think I'll change."