‘Take a walk’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 18, 2012

SALISBURY — George Throop meets new people every day and urges them to “take a walk.” He’s not just spouting some mean-spirited phrase, Throop hopes to inspire people to get moving.
Throop, 37, has walked 4,200 miles across America to raise awareness of how making small steps can lead to a healthier lifestyle, and in the process reduce the likelihood of contracting cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
“It’s always been a walk of inspiration — to live healthier lifestyles,” he said.
Throop is a native of Vancouver, Wash., and will end his journey in Washington, D.C. His trek, “Walk of Inspiration Across America,” began Sept. 20, 2009, just two days before his 34th birthday. His mother, Barbara, died from cancer two days before her 34th birthday when George was just nine years old.
He arrived in Rowan County a few days ago via Kannapolis. On Monday Throop settled in with Jon and Amy Welch of Salisbury, a host family he found via travel website, Couchsurfing.org.
Amy Welch joined the social networking site, which matches travelers with hosts, in July. She joined and sort of forgot about it, until two weeks ago. Throop reached out to Welch who, after consulting with her family, invited him into their West Marsh Street home.
Welch has always considered herself a nomad.
“I like to be moving. I like to experience life as he does,” she said of Throop.
Throop is the Welch family’s first couchsurfer. The website also provides references and Throop had more than 100 of them.
“I want my kids to have this idea that the world is a big place that can be made small,” she said.
Throop found walking to be the best way to promote his platform of healthier living.
“Walking is good for the body. It’s free. There’s no training needed,” he said.
His original goal was 20 miles per day and would’ve had him finished in 2010, but he’s since abandoned the deadline.
On his walk through Salisbury, Throop’s girlfriend, Rocio Sotomayor, a math teacher at Georgia State University, joined him. The two will head through Davidson County and by Friday into High Point.
He’s met people along the way who’ve joined him. An Australian man, Zan, joined him in California for about 100 miles of his trek. Throop doesn’t solicit donations, but people have provided meals, shelter and sometimes money.
He wore running shoes until he reached Abilene, TX. After Texas he began walking in Teva sandals, which he finds very comfortable.
Before embarking on this journey, Throop worked as a manager for a private security company for high rise buildings in Seattle.
“I believe everyone has enormous potential in life to create a better world for themselves and the world around them,” Throop said.
For more information about George Throop, visit enjoythewalk.org.

Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.