Willie Nelson famously sang “Walkin’ is better than running away, and crawling ain’t no good at all.” Odd as it may sound, when I was sent this article about Louis Michael Figueroa, an Arizonian who has put over 7,500 miles on his New Balances to raise awareness about child abuse, it was Willie Nelson that popped into my head. Louis’ walk to fight child abuse is the perfect anecdote for Willie’s mantra. Louis, himself a survivor of child sexual abuse, has neither run from nor crawled away from his abuse; instead, Louis is looking this evil straight in the face and walking his way to a safer world for children.
Louis first tied up his laces way back in January of 2005 and has been walking every day since. Heading east from Arizona, Louis stepped his way to Florida where he turned North for DC, before heading west again for Seattle, and then south for Los Angeles and back to Tucson. Having recently biked across the US myself to help Darkness to Light with their mission of preventing child sexual abuse, I look at Louis journey with an awe-filled respect. Louis’ walk both validates my personal journey across America for Darkness to Light, and it affirms my belief that as individuals we are all blessed with the ability to make the world a better place for future generations.
Long ago, Louis Figueroa realized that his gift was a simple one indeed. Louis recognized that he had the ability to walk extremely long distances. (If you see his calves in a picture it makes sense…) Louis realization was the first part in a simple process. Louis discovered in himself, what he had to offer (obscure as it may sound). What Louis discovered next was more profound and required even more self belief.
One thing that Darkness to Light emphasizes is “personal power.” A simple idea, personal power means that each of us, as individuals have the capacity to improve the world around us; we each are lucky enough to be able to affect positive change in our world. When Louis realized the immense personal power that’s within himself (and each of us), he was on the verge of something great. The last step for Louis, as for all of us, was the hardest one.
Louis realized his gift for walking distances, he recognized his power to make a difference, and all that was left was Louis’ commitment to self-sacrifice.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Self-sacrifice is the real miracle out of which all the reported miracles grow”, and he couldn’t be more right. In history, self-sacrifice is the strongest weapon for positive change. Whether it’s Martin Luther King being shot for his struggles, or Gandhi fasting for weeks to bring peace to his country, self-sacrifice has a long and beautiful history.
When Louis Figueroa decided to combine his gifts, and his personal power with an immense self-sacrifice, Louis’ walk to end child abuse was born. Through self-sacrifice, Louis has become a soldier for children. By simply facing this dark issue and doing something as mundane as walking, Louis Figueroa has stamped 7,500 miles of positive footprints across America.