Skip to main content

COE alumnus walks the length of equator despite health scares

The saying goes that “you can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” Step into the shoes of Jerry Healy, a retired engineer and NC State University electrical engineering graduate of 1969 — and after 25 years, you will have walked the length of the equator.

As of June, Healy has accomplished his goal of walking the circumference of the equator which measures at 24,901.6 miles.

An avid walker for decades as a means of maintaining his physical and mental health, Healy tracked the first 1,000 miles in 1996, then resumed tracking in 1999.

“As an engineer, there is an innate curiosity that made me want to keep track and know how much I was exactly walking,” said Healy.

Healy would keep track of how much he would walk each day using spreadsheets. To achieve his goal, Healy kept on track by walking at least four miles a day and pushing himself to walk more when he could.

While Healy faced expected challenges in accomplishing his goal such as replacing worn down New Balance sneakers, he also faced a health scare when a blood test resulted in a diagnosis of leukemia. He had to undergo chemotherapy.

“It ravages the body; I couldn’t even walk to the mailbox,” said Healy. “Though, having set out on this goal to walk the equivalent of walking the equator, it helped me to get over my weakness because I knew I had to keep walking.”

In accomplishing his goal, Healy not only traveled throughout Raleigh, but also outside of the United States in countries including France and Panama. Though, Healy’s favorite place to walk is his former childhood home of Southern Pines, NC.

“It was nice to traverse familiar walking paths, such as where I used to walk to school,” said Healy.

Following Healy’s accomplishment, he is looking forward to “stopping and smelling the roses.”

“I don’t think I can repeat this one,” said Healy. “I could say that I could walk across the United States or hike the Appalachian Trail. Though, my goal now is to try and walk 90 miles a month and to experience new trails.

“Ultimately, if a goal comes to me I’ll do it, but for now, the goal is to try and remain as healthy as possible.”

To hear more about Healy’s achievement, watch this video from WRAL.