Man skates from Jackson to Salt Lake City for charity
JACKSON, Wyoming (AP) – After triumphantly driving through Liberty Park in Salt Lake City waving an American flag on Independence Day, Dusty Campbell quickly collapsed on the grass.
There, the 31-year-old physiotherapist was greeted by a small crowd and a barrage of puppy kisses from his German and Dutch Shepherd Koa, the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported.
Campbell traveled the 285-mile circuit from Jackson to Salt Lake City in just 47 hours and raised $ 15,200 for the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit organization that helps veterans recover from mental and physical injuries. Thinking of those servicemen, Campbell rode inline skates for two nights, resting only for three 30-minute naps.
It was still on its wheels at 4:20 a.m. on July 4, with about 50 miles to go.
When he first left Town Square in Jackson, there wasn’t much fanfare. The coach driver gave him a nod, and some tourists vaguely noted the size of his wheels.
The symbolism of the location was, however, noted in live Instagram videos that showed rollerblading in front of the Veterans Memorial in the center of the plaza.
“In my mind, there is no better cause,” said Campbell.
A few people familiar with the mission gave rallying horns as he exited town on Highway 89. But once he passed Smith’s Food and Drug, he was alone.
In golden wireless headphones, he listened to audiobooks to pass the time. His girlfriend, father and mother-in-law followed closely behind in a support van stocked with snacks and spare wheels.
The strategy was to swap a pair of saggy hockey skates down dangerous descents; the idea being the extra friction and the smaller wheels would slow it down.
“But it was still a sketch,” said the skater.
Fortunately, they didn’t need to take out the climbing harness, a dramatic last resort option with questionable logistics. This turned out to be a no-option anyway since Campbell forgot to bring the tow cables.
After Alpine there were two grueling climbs of about 1,000 vertical feet, and his feet were already aching. Despite rocking some of Inline Warehouse’s best wheels, sheer distance won out.
“No preparation seemed to prepare me for the real deal,” he wrote to fans on Instagram.
Campbell traveled over 100 miles on day one, working until Saturday morning before getting some sleep in the van.
Day two was tough, but he was able to avoid some key issues – lace bite, irritation, dehydration – with some clutch preventative measures.
As he prepared himself near the plaza, he stuffed saturated sponges under the lip of his blades. He wrapped gel pads in his socks to ward off the worst blisters.
As a physiotherapist, Campbell is well connected to a community of athletes in Salt Lake City, but most of them thought he was crazy. At 6 feet 1 inch and 230 pounds, it’s not exactly built for endurance.
He also didn’t have a lot of direct sound boxes. While Rollerblade coaches a marathon team every year, the level of endurance required for 285 miles of near-continuous skating was not very precedent.
But what he lacked in experience he made up for with courage.
Now that he’s finished the feat, Campbell has a key piece of advice for like-minded athletes: “You have to have your ‘why’. “
For him, the Wounded Warrior Project was personal. After several friends and family had served in the military, it was Dusty Campbell who told them about the “edges of PTSD” upon their return.
Campbell said mental illness is still “grossly underestimated”, and he hoped awareness of the association would also draw more attention to the mental impact of war.
He still remembers one of his college friends who doubled over in the back room of a party, sobbing uncontrollably. He felt he should be with his troops, not safe in the United States.
At that moment Campbell felt a deep helplessness. But he has since realized his own potential for impact.
Reflecting on the trip on Monday, as his friends played paddleball in sunny Salt Lake City, Campbell said he was happy with the fundraising success, although there were a few big donors who didn’t come.
This fundraiser is still ongoing and can be found here.