BANGOR, Maine — Most of the entourage that left the Ronald McDonald House on Main Street at 9:25 a.m. Wednesday on foot was bound for the Hampden town line, about three miles away. Once the group got there, most of the runners and a police escort were planning to turn back toward Bangor.

For a lone man in the group, however, there was no turning back.

Three miles just means Tommy Neeson has about 2,297 more to go before he can stop.

Neeson, a Virginia Beach, Va., resident, picked Bangor, the city with the northernmost Ronald McDonald House on the East Coast, as the starting point on his Four Million Steps run. In another 76 days, Neeson hopes to be at the Ronald McDonald House in Miami having raised money for and awareness about the houses.

Neeson, 39, said he has raised about $3,000 so far. His goal would be $1 for every step he runs, which could be around $4 million, but the final total isn’t a big concern. Neeson would rather people take time to volunteer.

“[The goal is to get] out the fact that people can come to the houses, and there’s so much people can do volunteerwise to make a difference,” he said during an 8 a.m. breakfast of a bagel and hot tea with milk in the Ronald McDonald House dining area. “You can do a lot with money, but you can’t do a thing without volunteers and people helping out.”

Neeson plans to visit 25 Ronald McDonald houses in 14 states and will stay overnight in as many as he can. He’ll run an average of about 30 miles per day.

Neeson’s motivation for the fundraiser is personal.

Ten years ago his almost 2-year-old daughter, Randi, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Neeson and his family, who were living in the New York City suburbs, went to the Ronald McDonald House in the city for a while. The houses provide a place for families to stay while children undergo treatment at hospitals.

Randi Neeson died about six months after her diagnosis, but Tommy Neeson recalls the family’s stay in the Ronald McDonald House as a sort of respite.

“It was something as simple as having a place to stay when things are going 180 miles an hour,” he said. “It can make such a difference. Even if it’s just an hour when you can relax, things slow down, seem very normal. Knowing how much it means to people, I wanted to do something to help raise money and get that knowledge out there.”

A few years ago, Neeson, a lifelong runner, started to think about an East Coast run. He approached the Ronald McDonald House in Norfolk, Va., which supported his idea, mapped out a route that would avoid major highways and began to train, running 75-110 miles a week.

The first stretch of Neeson’s trip will take him to Unity, then to Waterville today and to Brunswick on Friday.

He was pushing a modified baby stroller which contains supplies such as sunblock, water, pepper spray to ward off the occasional stray dog, and a notepad to keep track of his trip. Neeson has chosen to run without a support vehicle simply because he doesn’t want to waste gasoline.

Neeson won’t be alone the whole time, however. He left the Ronald McDonald House here with members of the Bangor High School girls soccer team and a police escort.

“I’m going to take my time, enjoy the scenery and enjoy the people running with me during the day,” Neeson said. “… It can be a lonely road by yourself.”