Food Entrepreneur Walks Across America for a Cause

It’s common to hear of companies making monetary donations to charitable causes, but the philanthropy often stops there. This is not so for entrepreneur Rebecca McCrea, owner and creator of Hickey Bottom Barbecue Company, who wholeheartedly believes that donating financially is not nearly enough to drive needed awareness to the cause being championed.  In fact, this bodacious business owner is walking across America to help pets in need, raising awareness and charitable funds for the Best Friend Animal Society (BFAS) nonprofit—the leading national animal welfare organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters.

McCrea’s walk began on May 18, 2019 in Butler, Pennsylvania, and will culminate in mid-September at the Best Friends Life Saving Center in Los Angeles. She began the anticipated 2,473-mile walk with her dog, Arnie, with the initial goal of raising a humble dollar-per-mile for an anticipated total of $2,473. However, McCrea’s cross-country walk quickly became something of a phenomenon on social media and otherwise, helping her earn far more. In fact, McCrea has notably raised over $4,800 to date, an amount that is growing daily and of which 100 percent will be donated directly to BFAS.

As of Sept. 3, McCrea has been walking for 104 days and has walked a staggering 2,158 miles, averaging 30 miles per day, rain or shine. Her honest and humble postings on Facebook have captivated both media outlets and countless Americans, also organically evolving into a robust and engaging community of new friends and “neighbors” from all across middle America. Scores of people along the way upheld McCrea as a “real life Forest Gump.”

Of course, where Forest had “Bubba Gump Shrimp Company,” Rebecca helms Hickey Bottom Barbecue Company—a labor of love named after a quiet country road in Western Pennsylvania. According to the Web site, “It’s a place where hard-working folks do their best for their families and neighbors. It’s where your word is your bond and a handshake is a contract you stand behind.” Forest would be proud and, indeed, the similarities don’t end there. Both the fictional Gump and the real life McCrea began their walk with nothing in mind but movement. After having total knee reconstruction surgery in Feb. 2019 to repair her ACL, McCrea says she had a crazy recurring thought, “the moment I can walk again, I want to do something meaningful, something amazing!” She’s a self-professed “old school” gal, and so the idea formed to walk across middle America, connect with everyone and anyone along the way and raise money for pets in need while doing so.

With little-to-no preparation, the idea turned from a laugh with friends to a full-blown adventure within a week. While McCrea may not have had hundreds of people running on her coat tails like in the classic film, in today’s social media-driven society she has the rough equivalent with hundreds of supporters cheering her posts through every state line. One look at her Facebook page will give you a great sense of the national community support she’s garnered. Throughout her voyage McCrea is connecting with people; She is shaking hands, kissing dogs, and is sharing stories, meals and laughs with everyone from bewildered law enforcement officers, intrigued farmers and other curious strangers online from all across America.

As of Sept.3, McCrea neared Farmington, New Mexico and from there, she headed toward Kanab, Utah for two overnight stays at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. For her efforts, Best Friends Animal Society is graciously gifting her, and furry friend Arnie, two nights of accommodations to rest McCrea’s mind, body and aching feet.

It seems the pain is all worthwhile for McCrea, who said, “If I inspire one person to do something they’ve always wanted to do … or to simply try something new, it’s all worth it. If I motivate one person to do something—anything—I am doing something meaningful.”

McCrea’s altruism is rivaled only by her talent for making barbecue sauce. She founded Hickey Bottom Barbeque Company in 2013 with her own secret barbeque sauce recipes. It quickly grew from a one woman-owned and operated company into a national brand that is making its way to becoming a household name across America.

Hickey Bottom’s product line includes Sweet BBQ, Honey BBQ, and Hot BBQ, in addition to their popular Smokey Hot Sauce and Grillin’ Rub.  All Hickey Bottom products are made with clean ingredients; and are free of high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.

“I created these sauces to add ‘real’ flavor to traditional sauces, as I felt like I was always adding flavor to the supermarket varieties,” McCrea elaborated. “In our varieties, you can taste the sweetness, the honey and heat and the flavors linger on the palate. Some joke that I have people drinking them straight out of the bottle.”

The company is doing so well of late, Hickey Bottom Barbecue Company is making its debut in select Walmart stores throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland. It’s also expanding distribution into Giant Martin’s stores in Pennsylvania and Maryland, along with Giant Eagle stores in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. In addition, Hickey Bottom is now available on Amazon Prime.

Through blisters, sunburn and sun-chapped lips, McCrea has witnessed first-hand the spirit of America, and has re-discovered her own iron will. When she finally arrives at Best Friends Life Saving Center in Los Angeles, she’ll indubitably be greeted as a hero. Forest would attest that a hero is as a hero does.

McCrea exemplifies her company’s stated vision that Hickey Bottom is more than just the name of a company, but rather a way of life.

Not just one to talk, this inspiring F&B purveyor clearly walks the walk.


As the Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List,” Merilee Kern, MBA is an internationally-regarded brand analyst, strategist and futurist. As prolific consumer trends, lifestyle and leisure industry voice of authority and tastemaker, Merilee keeps her finger on the pulse of the marketplace in search of new and innovative must-haves and exemplary experiences at all price points, from the affordable to the extreme. The best-of-the-best across all product, service and travel categories—as well as noteworthy marketplace change makers, movers and shakers—are spotlighted in her exclusive cross-media platform that reaches multi-millions each month through several syndication channels: print and online publications as well as broadcast TV and terrestrial radio. Connect with her at / Instagram / Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIN

Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above may have been provided at no cost or sponsored to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.