Who says teenagers are self-absorbed? True, some of them may be, but there are those who are making great sacrifices to help those in need. Nineteen-year-old Dashiel Alsup is one of those self-sacrificing teens. He’s definitely a teenager you should know about.
Dashiel Alsup can’t help but look back on the seven months since he stepped away from the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean and started walking toward Florida. The first week was brutal: his feet were coated with blisters, he was consumed with loneliness and plagued with doubts about ever reaching the East Coast. “Florida felt like a fairly impossible goal,” he says. But Dash kept walking, mile after mile.
The 19-year-old encountered wild animals in the cold Oregon mountains and suffered through temperatures of more than 100 degrees walking through the Flaming Gorge in Utah during a scorching week. “Yeah, those were hot days, and 60 miles between stops,” he said. “But coming into Vernal, Utah and getting to the 7-11 to pick up an ice cold 44-ounce Big Gulp was joyous,” he says, laughing.
Dash kept walking, steadily achieving 20-25 miles per day, mostly barefoot, through Colorado, Kansas and Missouri. “There were a few times that I had to put on sandals, when the road conditions were just too hot or the debris was so bad,” he says.
He lost count of the number of people who gave him food or gave him a place to stay for the night, insisting on feeding him dinner, or sharing their faith. “America is full of incredibly gracious people,” he says. “I can’t tell you how many times someone went out of their way to help me. They had no idea what I was up to, they were just doing it from their heart.”
There were also times his safety was in doubt. Occasionally, locals would confront him about his intentions before they realized he was supporting charity. Dash spent one day working for a man who had spent 11 years in prison for drug smuggling. “Here we are alone, deep in the woods, and I’m hauling brush while he’s getting sauced and revving up his chainsaw,” Dash says. “Turns out he was a good guy; he just wanted someone to confide in, not chop into pieces.”
Dash started appearing in newspaper stories and being featured on television, especially in Nashville, where Soles4Souls is based. He walked together with charity Founder, Wayne Elsey, to a local shelter to distribute shoes to the homeless.
“He is a special kid, and there’s no doubt his commitment to helping people is authentic,” says Elsey. “Just look at all the fans he has who are following his epic journey. We’re proud to be associated with him.”
He walked southeast through Georgia, sensing the end of the journey and counting down the number of miles to Jacksonville. Last week, he completed his journey with hundreds of supporters and Soles4Souls staff walking with him to the Atlantic. Even several NFL players from the Jacksonville Jaguars were in attendance and participated in another shoe distribution for homeless in their city.
“I’m happy that I can bring some attention to Soles4Souls,” he says. “It’s a simple thing, you know, putting shoes on people’s feet. For people without shoes, it can mean the world.”
Dash keeps a blog of his travels on his blog (A Single Pebble) and you can learn more about his epic trek and the charity he supports at www.Soles4Souls.
Nashville-based Soles4Souls™ facilitates the donations of both new and used shoes, which are used to aid the hurting worldwide. Soles4Souls has distributed more than 3.9 million pairs (currently one pair every 19 seconds) to people in over 70 countries, including Honduras, Uganda, Romania, and the United States.