|Saying the, Purpose of the journey is the journey," former Henryettan Ryan Ray came home to a rousing welcome Friday evening.
Ray, a 1998 HHS graduate, is at the mid-point of his walk across America. The journey started in February at the end of the historic Mother Road, Santa Monica. He arrived in Henryetta after 92 days of a walk that is designed to inspire people to follow their dreams.
His television start was a webcam show in his living room with one viewer and it grew to a syndication feed that reached 1.2 million daily.
There was still something missing so he set his sights on a new goal, a walk from coast to coast.
"People work eight hours a day doing something they don't care about," he said. "This is a demonstration of the solid faith and confidence that I believe in."
Putting one foot in front of the other around 8:30 each morning, he has been on the road across the nation. Admitting there are some days that he feels the aches and pains from the trip, Ray said he keeps walking. "The walk is a metaphor for life. The purpose of the journey is the journey."
For part of the trip, he said it was pretty lonely. "I felt like a homeless person at times." His pack, weighing between 30 and 60 pounds, depending upon the amount of food he carries," includes a one-man tent that gets pitched at night along the route.
Sine reaching the Texas Panhandle, the loneliness has not been as bad. Ray said he has been taken in by people following him on Facebook and his website. That provides him with hot, home cooked meals and, best of all, a refreshing shower.
When he came to Henryetta, he was met by a host of former classmates, some two dozen of which joined him in the final walk to Nichols Park for a welcome home party.
Police cars and fire trucks escorted the group along Lake Road with onlookers lining the roadway cheering him on.
At the lake, it was a true festival with party lights, food, soft drinks and a live band for entertainment.
Ray had lots of hugs from friends and even his old band director and answered a lot of questions from young and old.
From here, he said he will be heading through the northeastern part of Oklahoma and expects to reach Arkansas next week.
When he arrives in New York, his first goal is to shave his beard then party with friends and acquaintances he has met along the way. "Lots of people said they will fly to New York to meet me. I have friends in LA who will come there and walk the last day with me."
After that, he said he is going to have to see what his heart calls for.
Click here to follow Ray on his Facebook page.