- Associated Press - Sunday, March 6, 2016

JOLIET, Ill. (AP) - Tony Roddy taught youths at the Boys & Girls Club of Joliet the keys to success he used in his roughly 3,000-mile walk across the U.S.

Roddy, a former Joliet resident, told a room of close to 20 teens at the local agency they needed curiosity, social intelligence, optimism, self-control, grit, zest and other qualities to succeed in life.

He made use of each as he completed last year his walk across the U.S. to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. His journey began in Maine and ended in California.

“It takes more than just muscle to walk. It takes a lot of brainpower,” he said. “If you don’t have brainpower to walk, you can have the muscles of Samson but you’re still not going to make it. You got to have your mind conditioned to do it because sometimes you have close calls and I had a lot of close calls.”

In his journey, he recalled in his trip through 13 states of walking through days of nonstop rain in Ohio, a cold but beautiful night in Arizona and resting in tents, hotels and a cemetery.

In one story Roddy told the teens, he said he told his uncle 15 years ago he wanted to walk across the U.S., something he said with zest and enthusiasm.

However, his uncle dismissed him as crazy, but Roddy was too passionate about his dream.

“Be enthusiastic about life and about who you are,” he said.

Roddy once lived and worked in Joliet but now lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He graduated from Joliet Central High School in 1977 and joined the U.S. Army, making a career in the reserves. He also served a tour in Iraq.

He wrote in an email he spent many hours growing up at the Boys & Girls Club of Joliet.

One part of his journey that tested his perseverance - or grit - was a midnight walk in Arizona, where the temperature was a frosty 19 degrees and he had to push his gathering of supplies that weighed almost 250 pounds.

He said he could feel a burning sensation in his hands from potential frostbite. He wanted to quit but he didn’t.

“‘Quitters never win and winners never quit.’ I saw that on a sign when I was walking somewhere. . If you keep that in mind, you guys will never be losers. Never,” he said.

Another part was when he was walking through Ohio and it rained for more than 30 days. He recalled his feet blistering as he walked through stormy weather conditions. The walk through Ohio took upward of 20 days, he said.

“I didn’t give up. I just kept pushing,” he said.

He told the teens they needed to persevere and think about their future, whether that is college, a job or entering the military. They needed to have an optimistic outlook, he said.

“You have to visualize yourself crossing the finish line. . Be positive when you do it,” he said.


Source: The (Joliet) Herald-News, https://bit.ly/1U94wca


Information from: The Herald-News, https://www.theherald-news.com/

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