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I walked across America, but I never walked alone

It’s hard to believe tomorrow morning I’ll be boarding a flight from San Diego to Philadelphia – flying high above a route that took me five months to walk, completing the journey this time in a few hours.

I did it.

After a lifetime of thinking maybe one day and 17 years of finding a bold way to fulfill one of my father’s last wishes. I did it. I walked across the USA in support of the Navy SEAL Foundation.

It’s weird to wake up even a few mornings and not have to dedicate my day to walking, but my sun-crisp hands and story-filled mind remind me each moment of the journey I just completed. Every time I think of a memory – good or bad – from the boy in Texas who gave up his last bologna sandwich for me to the wild dogs who forced me to walk a little faster in the early hours of one morning – I can’t help but smile to myself and get a little giddy up in my step.

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Five months and 2905 miles later, I completed my walk across the USA and I could not have done it without all of you.

I’ve said it a million times and I’ll say it again – this walk was a lot harder than I ever thought it would be. I trained my body for months before departing in April and when I wasn’t training, I was researching the best routes and reading about what to expect. But nothing could prepare my body for days on end of walking in over 100-degree heat in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona and no amount of planning would have prepared me for the heart-break of things like long roads that ended in gravel and rocks in Oklahoma or random bridge closures in Missouri. (I don’t think anything could have prepared Thule for those closures either!)

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Walking across America is tough, which is why I owe this to all of you.

The biggest battle I had on this walk was the one with myself. I’ll be honest, some days I woke up questioning why, at almost 60-years-old and retired, I was doing this and a lot of nights, especially the really hot ones when there was nowhere to sleep and all my body wanted to do was collapse, I was ready to throw in the towel.

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But every single time I went through one of those battles – I would get a call from the family of a fallen Navy SEAL, thanking me for what I was doing and wishing me well. After these calls, I would instantly remember who I was doing this for and how small this walk was in comparison to what they do for us every day. The SEALs have given up so much for us. Nothing I did on this walk could ever amount to the thanks they are owed, but I’m happy I could do something for them – like my dad always wanted of me.

The SEALs were my inspiration for this walk, but they were not my only motivation.

America – there’s a reason why they call you the beautiful and it’s not just for the land.

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I cannot get over the kindness of strangers in this country. I feel truly humbled by how much time and effort people took to wish me well on this journey. I had endless honks and thumbs up from drivers, meals bought for me and homes opened to me. I can’t count the number of people who took time from their day to walk beside me and even push Thule for a little. And that day when 400 kids cheered me on from outside their school in Morehead, KY – that image will stay with me forever. To all the people who prayed for me and wrote me messages on Facebook. To all the people who gave me a place to stay or welcomed me to their church. To all the people who cooked for me and traveled miles to see me.

THANK YOU ALL!

I walked across the USA but I never walked alone. So many people made this journey what it was and I will never forget it. Seeing this beautiful country by foot and hearing the stories of all its people has changed me forever.

There is a lot more to come from The Road I Chose, but for now I just want to show my gratitude and appreciation to everyone who made this walk happen, everyone who made this walk special. You are all forever in my mind and in my heart.

All proceeds from my walk across the USA benefit The Navy SEAL Foundation. Donate on my Crowdrise Page and follow my journey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Follow Paul\'s journey and share with others here.

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One Comment

  1. Nicely done. Great wrap up here, and great job getting it done. You definitely “got comfortable being uncomfortable”. Now you should enjoy a few comforts and some well deserved rest.

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