Not many 52-year-olds voluntarily agree to walk 100 consecutive miles to raise money for charity, but this mission hit close to home for Sam Williamson.
Days before Williamson attempted the “Walk the Walk 100” to raise $100,000, his home was damaged in the tornado that hit North Dallas on Oct. 20. His house’s windows were broken, and the roof was blown off.
“That’s why I was so committed because within minutes, the first responders were there for a week around our house protecting us,” he says. “I was really reignited and fired up to go do this thing in their support and their honor.”
In the weeks leading up to the event, Williamson says it was important to suppress doubt and continue training.
“I had logged over 500 miles, but my longest one-time walk was only a few weeks before, and it was five and a half hours of just nonstop at 20 miles,” Williamson says. “I thought at that point, ‘I have to do this five more times. What have I got myself into?’”
As a professional actor appearing on episodes of “Walker, Texas Ranger” and providing voiceovers in national and regional commercials for companies like Taco Bell, Wingstop and TXU Energy, he had no previous athletic training.
Williamson started the walk at 5 a.m. on Oct. 26, a nasty morning at White Rock Lake with cold winds, mist and rain. After completing a few laps, people started dropping in to keep him company.
One by one, veterans and civilians would pop over the hill and strike conversation. One man, who had lost both feet in the Army, ran a charity called Rebuilding Warriors to provide service dogs for veterans. Williamson’s wife, Molly, joined for 30 miles without any prior training.
When night fell, the walk started to get strange. The fog rolled in and Williamson began seeing things that weren’t there.
“I said, ‘Well that’s funny. The last time we lapped this thing they were having a party here, but they left this big blow-up dinosaur, that’s crazy. I don’t remember seeing that.’” And his walking companion said, “That’s the light in the trees, that’s the reflection going on.” Williamson laughed and said, “I guess this is what sleep deprivation feels like.”
At this point, Williamson was fatigued, sleep deprived and lacking nutrition. Around 21 hours in, veteran and fellow Bird’s Eye View member Brendan Weimholt joined his run.
“I stopped for a second to get rehydrated, I couldn’t keep fluids down and I kind of passed out,” Williamson says.
Weimholt called paramedics to take Williamson to the hospital where he was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis; his muscle proteins had started breaking down and his kidneys couldn’t process it. Along with that, his knee had flared up and he had contracted a sinus infection and cold.
“If I had kept going the doctor said, ‘You may have made it another lap, but you would have ended up back here. If you had made it the next 40 there’s a risk of you being on dialysis the rest of your life.’”
Williamson had completed 60 miles and raised $30,000. A few weeks later, he was persistent to finish his mission.
“We all met two weeks later, back at the same place, sacred ground, T&P Hill where I went down, and 30 or 40 people showed up, complete strangers, family, team members,” he says.
They continued to walk a lap around White Rock Lake, racking Williamson’s total to 70 miles. He plans to add up his miles and finish the 100 he committed to.
“My why is truly, to be an example to show that an average citizen can make a difference and you don’t have to go to that extreme, but sometimes you do to get other people to do something in a small way.”
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