Justin Kuhel has a pretty big mission. Over the next five months, he’s going to walk across the United States (about 2,800 miles) for his organization March Across America to pay tribute to the men and women who served with him overseas. Justin is a Marine, and did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan until 2010. When his service ended, he made it his mission to raise awareness and funding for those who lost their lives AND two organizations he’s really passionate about: The Headstrong Project and Help Our Military Heroes.
We wanted to support Justin, so we met up with him at our store to help him get some walking shoes (8 pairs to be exact!) and some provisions for food and equipment along the way (a Visa Gift Card). During his shopping trip, we also had a chance to chat about his march.
So to accomplish about 2,800 miles in 5 months, you’ll have to walk….
Around 20–23 miles a day. Some days could be better than others, but that’s my current plan.
Wow, that’s close to a marathon a day. And this isn’t your first march either, is it?
No, I walked from Columbus, Ohio to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, which was about 400 miles. I lost 27 lbs. on that trip and it took me a few weeks. But this next trip is going to be much, much harder.
We can imagine! What do you foresee as being the toughest part of the march?
It’s going to be very tough physically, obviously, but also mentally. You really have to push yourself. But on these walks, I meet so many people that have stories to share with me about their loved ones that have served, and that’s what keeps me going. On the way to Arlington, there were times when I stopped every 10 minutes because someone wanted to talk. That’s amazing and it really kept me motivated.
How did you plan your route?
I’ve been lucky to have a great support system of family and friends to help me. Some will come along on the journey or meet me as I pass through their town. A friend and I mapped the route entirely on Google Maps, and a buddy drives in a car as I walk. At night, he’ll pick me up and take me to my sleeping arrangements, most of which are firehouses. I’m a registered paramedic so I’m getting support from fire stations along the route, which is awesome. And then each morning, I’ll head back to where I stopped the night before and start walking again.
Are you all prepped and ready for May 16? (The day Justin starts.)
Almost! I’m looking at getting a camera to take pictures and record people’s stories as I go. I’m working out and eating right to prepare, but otherwise I’m just getting excited. I want to start.
If some of our Shoe Lovers want to support your cause, where can they go?
They can visit March Across America and there’s links to learn more about the cause and how to donate. Plus, everyone can follow on Twitter at @MarchAcrossUSA for updates along the way. I’d love to have the support of any Shoe Lover!
To recap, Justin’s big march kicks off on May 16 at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina (where he was stationed) and will end at Camp Pendelton, California. He’ll pass through about 9 major cities along his route, so be sure to look for him this spring and summer to cheer him on! And when Justin’s done, he plans to return home and begin nursing school in Columbus, Ohio.
Go, Justin, go! We all wish you the BEST of luck and happy marching!