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7/22/2014 11:05:00 AM
Walking cross country for United States Wounded Warriors
Josh Lydell walks into the Motel 6 in Williams, Arizona July 16. Ryan Williams/WGCN
Josh Lydell walks into the Motel 6 in Williams, Arizona July 16. Ryan Williams/WGCN

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter


WILLIAMS, Ariz. - More than four months ago, Josh Lydell set off from Charleston, South Carolina on his way to San Francisco, California-on foot.

The purpose of the 2,800-mile "Warrior Walk" is to support the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit organization that honors and empowers wounded veterans.

Lydell passed through Williams on July 16 and shared his story with the News. Lydell, who served in the Marine Corps, decided to do the walk so he could something for charity.

"It's very easy in your life to just kind of throw money at problems," he said. "I kind of came up with the idea that the ultimate expression of being human for me is being humane. So this is just one more extension of that on this trip is to do something for somebody else and help take care of other people."

Lydell's goal is to raise $100,000 for the Wounded Warrior project. So far, he's raised about $7,980.

"What I like about them more so than other organizations is it's not just focused on the physical side of things-getting a prosthetic arm or leg or whatever-but it's also that reintegration into society and help with the family that I think is so important," he said.

As of July 16, Lydell had about 500 miles left to cover, which he estimated would take him about a month.

"I have to tell you, as proud as I am of what I've done and I'm still all for it, I am very ready to be done," he said.

Lydell walks between 15-30 miles each day. He camps about five to six nights a week and stays in hotels on occasion. With all of the miles he's covered, he picked up his fifth pair of shoes while in Flagstaff.

Lydell uses a cart to carry his supplies during his trip. He started out with a metal cart that weighed about 60 pounds unloaded and 160 pounds loaded. When the cart became too difficult to haul up the hills in Arkansas, he traded in for a lighter weight model.

However, Lydell's journey has still been challenging in many ways.

"It was less difficult physically than I expected it to be. I just thought I was going to be a mess right now," he said. "It's emotionally draining. And not just on the repetition side of things, but it's very lonely."

Lydell said he's experienced a range of emotions throughout his Warrior Walk.

"The first four or five days, all I wanted to do was quit. And I was like, 'What am I doing? This is ridiculous,'" he said. "Then all of a sudden it became a fun experience. And about two or three weeks ago, I was like I'm ready, it's time to do something new. So I'll finish it out, I'll do my best."

Many people who have seen Lydell walking along the highway have pulled their cars over to make sure he was okay. Some even offered him a warm meal or a place to stay.

"It's been a very good experience for me," Lydell said. "It's renewed a little bit of faith in humanity, just some of the kindness that people have shown me whether they knew what I was doing or not."

Besides raising awareness about the Wounded Warrior program, Lydell said he hopes that his journey will incite "a willingness of people to engage in something outside their regular pattern."

"This is outside mine," he said. "So I guess just if you believe in doing something and you work towards it you can actually do it. It's amazing how that works."

More information about the Lydell's Warrior Walk is available at https://support.woundedwarriorproject.org/individual-fundraising/thewarriorwalk.


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