Long Journey Nears Completion for Teenager Walking Barefoot Across America for Shoe Charity Soles4Souls
look back on the seven months since he stepped away from the cold waters of
the Pacific Ocean and started walking toward
brutal: his feet were coated with blisters, he was consumed with loneliness
and plagued with doubts about ever reaching the East Coast. “
like a fairly impossible goal,” he says. But Dash kept walking, mile after
The 19-year-old encountered wild animals in the cold
suffered through 100+ degree heat walking through the Flaming Gorge in
during a scorching week. “Yeah, those were hot days, and 60 miles between
stops,” he said. “But coming into
pick up an ice cold 44 ounce Big Gulp was joyous,” he says, laughing.
Dash kept walking, steadily achieving 20-25 miles per day, mostly
I had to put on sandals, when the road conditions were just too hot or the
debris was so bad,” he says.
He lost count of the number of people who gave him food or gave him a
place to stay for the night, insisting on feeding him dinner, or sharing their
faith. “America is full of incredibly gracious people,” he says. “I can’t
tell you how many times someone went out of their way to help me. They had no
idea what I was up to, they were just doing it from their heart.”
There were also times his safety was in doubt. Occasionally, locals would
confront him about his intentions before they realized he was supporting
charity. Dash spent one day working for a man who had spent 11 years in
prison for drug smuggling. “Here we are alone, deep in the woods, and I’m
hauling brush while he’s getting sauced and revving up his chainsaw,” Dash
says. “Turns out he was a good guy; he just wanted someone to confide in, not
chop into pieces.”
Dash started appearing in newspaper stories and being featured on
television, especially in
together with charity Founder,
shoes to the homeless.
“He is a special kid, and there’s no doubt his commitment to helping
people is authentic,” says Elsey. “Just look at all the fans he has who are
following his epic journey. We’re proud to be associated with him.”
He walked southeast through
counting down the number of miles to
miles from the end of his journey, and hundreds of supporters and Soles4Souls
staff will be on hand to walk with him to the Atlantic. Even several NFL
players from the Jacksonville Jaguars will be in attendance and participate in
another shoe distribution for homeless in their city.
“I’m happy that I can bring some attention to Soles4Souls,” he says.
“It’s a simple thing, you know, putting shoes on people’s feet. For people
without shoes, it can mean the world.”
used shoes, which are used to aid the hurting worldwide. Soles4Souls has
distributed more than 3.9 million pairs (currently one pair every 19 seconds)
to people in over 70 countries, including
the Green Guide by National Geographic. It has also appeared on CNN, NBC,
ABC, FOX, CBS, and hundreds of regional outlets around
Soles4Souls is a 501(c)(3) recognized by the IRS; donating parties are
eligible for tax advantages. Visit www.giveshoes.org for more information.