Fairborn man walking coast-to-coast for suicide prevention

Credit: Bill Lackey

Combined ShapeCaption

Credit: Bill Lackey

Two years after serious motorcycle crash and thoughts of suicide, Hall aims to help others.

Joe Hall starts his day like most people: he wakes up and grabs breakfast. Unlike most people, after fueling up, Hall starts pushing a stroller packed with hiking and camping gear down U.S. 40.

Two years ago, Hall was in a motorcycle crash that left him with injuries all over his body and no will to live. Now, he is walking all the way across the United States to raise awareness and money for mental health and suicide prevention.

He started in Delaware on May 15 and reached Springfield on Thursday. He averages about 16 miles a day, which he said is roughly six to seven hours of walking each day. A friend of his makes calls to fire departments and police stations along the route to find places for Hall to set up his tent for the night.

Back when Hall was lying in the hospital, exhausted and in pain, he decided he no longer wanted to live. He had lost his job a few months before and, after crashing into the back of an SUV, his mind swarmed with suicidal thoughts. He credits his exhaustion — and possibly divine intervention — for why he didn’t go through with it. When he got out of the hospital, he knew he needed to set his mind toward a goal.

“I made it a point to try to give myself something to focus on to kind of keep the thoughts I was just having at bay,” said Hall, of Fairborn. “Like if I’m focused on something else, I can keep those thoughts away from me.”

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Joe Hall pauses on his journey along U.S. 40 between South Vienna and Springfield on Thursday, June 23, 2022. Hall is walking across America in a fundraiser for Dayton Children's Behavioral Health Unit. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Joe Hall pauses on his journey along U.S. 40 between South Vienna and Springfield on Thursday, June 23, 2022. Hall is walking across America in a fundraiser for Dayton Children's Behavioral Health Unit. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Combined ShapeCaption
Joe Hall pauses on his journey along U.S. 40 between South Vienna and Springfield on Thursday, June 23, 2022. Hall is walking across America in a fundraiser for Dayton Children's Behavioral Health Unit. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Preparing to run a marathon in under a year was what Hall decided to focus on. In September 2021, Hall was the final person to cross the finish line at the Columbus Marathon. But, one marathon wasn’t enough for Hall because, just over a month later, he ran 52.2 miles in two days in an ultra-marathon in Phoenix.

After the marathons, Hall came across a Mike Posner music video for the song “Live Before I Die.” The singer completed a transcontinental walk in 2019, which was the subject of his music video. Hall was inspired by the video and decided a transcontinental walk was his next project.

He “dove head first” into books about walking across the county and connected on social media with others who had completed the trek to learn all he could before setting out on the walk. Hall also realized that he couldn’t just take this journey for himself; he needed to find a greater motivation.

“One of the things in addition to my depression is I have really big issues with self worth,” said Hall, who on his website calls himself “a 39-year-old overweight warehouse worker.”

“I looked at myself and I’m like ‘Joe Hall is not worth this effort. You’ve got to do this for something bigger than yourself.’ ”

Hall knew he wanted to dedicate the walk to mental health awareness and suicide prevention because of his own battle with depression. But, after speaking with one of his friends whose son, Jaxon, had committed suicide at the age of 16, he also wanted to walk to raise money for Dayton Children Hospital’s behavioral health unit.

Jaxon’s family started the “Run a Mile for Jaxon” fundraiser two years ago, and donations from Hall’s transcontinental walk go directly toward the fundraiser’s $50,000 goal. Hall said he recognized that it was a lofty goal for his journey, but he is beginning to see his impact in other ways.

“I’ve had people reach out to me in an email and say that they’re following along and that they are inspired and they’ve been struggling,” Hall said. “If I don’t help [Jaxon’s family] get to their $50,000, I have to understand that maybe the impact that I was meant to have doing this was for other people, not just the fundraiser.”

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Joe Hall walks along U.S. 40 between South Vienna and Springfield on Thursday, June 23, 2022. Hall is walking across America in a fundraiser for Dayton Children's Behavioral Health Unit. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Joe Hall walks along U.S. 40 between South Vienna and Springfield on Thursday, June 23, 2022. Hall is walking across America in a fundraiser for Dayton Children's Behavioral Health Unit. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Combined ShapeCaption
Joe Hall walks along U.S. 40 between South Vienna and Springfield on Thursday, June 23, 2022. Hall is walking across America in a fundraiser for Dayton Children's Behavioral Health Unit. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

The “Hall Across the County” campaign started May 15 on the Delaware coast in Rehoboth Beach, and after a 3,107 mile journey, Hall will end the walk at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

So far, he’s been through some major hills in the Appalachians, plus two heat waves, a toe problem here and a sore hip flexor there.

As more people hear about his trek, people have been meeting him along the way, buying him lunch, and sometimes talking about their own mental health issues.

Having completed about 20% of the walk, he is taking a three-day break in his hometown of Fairborn beginning Friday to rest and recuperate. Hall said the first leg of the trip has been full of kindness from the people he has met along the way. He documents his journey day-by-day on social media, making sure to mention the good encounters he has.

“If I can try to highlight the good that happens to me along the way, you know, maybe it can help give somebody else a little bit of light that they’re not always going to be in the dark,” Hall said.

He said the “Hall Across the County” walk has helped him find his purpose after a long period of darkness.

“I’m proof that you can get through it, and you just have to keep going,” Hall said. “It’s kind of like a walk. You just got to keep going one foot in front of the other, and at some point, you’re going to find that purpose. I really firmly believe that for everybody.”

Follow Joe Hall’s journey at HallAcrosstheCountry.com and on Facebook.

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