It’s a long road from freshman year to graduation. But before taking those final steps across the stage last spring, alumnus Garrett Pekar decided to end his time at UMHB with another long journey — a 30-mile walk.
Since the start of his senior year, the mass communication/journalism major had told his family and friends that he wanted to see what it would be like to walk to his home in Granger from school.
Just a few days before graduation, he started his journey.
Pekar began his quest at 7 a.m. May 2. His trip wasn’t a walk in the park, though; it was an adventure and reminiscing experience.
Pekar said his trip was a story of two chapters, and the first half was from UMHB to Summers Mill.
“The first part of the journey … was a piece of cake,” Pekar said.
He didn’t have any trouble because there wasn’t much traffic, and the weather was cool. The walk gave him the opportunity to think and reflect on his years spent as a Crusader.
“I was able to look back at Belton as I grew distant from it.” he said.
The second half of his trip was an experience he will never forget. Once he had made it to Holland, he thought he was doing great and might even be able to get home sooner than he had projected, but instead he faced his first problem.
“After walking some distance … I was almost halfway down this stretch of the road, I ran into my first real obstacle of the trip, the dogs,” Pekar said. “I approached a house, and I immediately noticed the two dogs running from the yard to the road.”
There wasn’t a fence between him and the dogs. He knew he was in a dilemma.
“Some dogs are all bark and no bite, but these dogs looked like they had plenty of bite,” he said.
Pekar had to think fast, and he had an idea that was a long shot but might work.
“I pulled out a dog whistle app I had downloaded on my iPhone, and I don’t know why I had it, but it could have been because it was free or for this moment. Nonetheless, it was worth a shot,” he said.
Pekar proceeded toward the house, and the dogs began to run after him. He turned on the app, clicked a button, and it made a frequency tone that stopped the dogs in their tracks.
“I didn’t think that the app would work, but it did, and I was able to keep on moving,” Pekar said.
His next obstacle was the “road that goes on forever.” He could see water towers in the distance, but they were misleading. He walked for hours and even considered just quitting because he had lost his sense of direction.
“I thought about giving up several times as the road seemed longer and longer. This is the first time along the way I really started to feel sore,” Pekar said.
He never gave up. When he arrived in the city before his own town, Bartlett, he treated himself to some vanilla ice cream.
Once he had left Bartlett, he had a straight shot to Granger, his hometown.
He arrived home at 6:45
p.m. and “nothing could describe the feeling,” he said.
Pekar had completed his quest but walked one more time across the stage at his graduation this past spring. He felt a sense of accomplishment because he had finished what he had set out to do on his journey.
Junior accounting major and friend Tevin Ogo knew Pekar was going to be taking on the quest.
“Once I found out that Garrett was going to walk from the school to his hometown, Granger, I didn’t believe he would do it. I live in Copperas Cove, and it’s about the same distance from UMHB to our homes, so I know how far it would be. When I found out that Garrett accomplished the walk, I had to give my man props. That’s one long accomplishment,” he said.
Rebecca Pekar, Garrett’s mom, also knew about the journey that he was going to take.
“I was really leary with his walk because he didn’t tell us which ways he was going to take. … By 5:30, I was really worried, so I called him and found out that he was in the town right next to home, Bartlett. I felt a little more comfortable knowing he was close, and when he got home, I was glad he accomplished his goal and made it home safely,” she said.
Pekar shares the experiences of his walk in his blog. You can read it at http://garrettpekar.wordpress.com/.