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Cape woman plans next long walk from N.Y. to Ill. in spring

By Staff | Dec 30, 2008

Walking for exercise is one thing. Walking all the way to Tennessee is something else entirely.
But that is exactly what Cape Coral resident Debra Flinn did, walk 874 miles in the summer heat from just north of Charlotte Harbour to Dandrige, Tenn., in 66 grueling days.
Starting her trek in early June, Flinn weighed 261 pounds and wore size 22 clothing. She said she was simply “desperate” and needed to do something drastic to change her life.
“I was getting sick, having heart palpitations, and I had to do something,” she said. “I was very overweight.”
She trudged 15 miles a day during the journey as family and friends joined her during various points on her trip to encourage and support the unique adventure.
Though she received no financial support, Subway restaurants did kick in some free sandwiches during her time on the road.
She walked 10 miles during the morning, rested, then the other 5 miles in the evening.
Now she can walk 15 miles at a pop, and her size has shrunk to an astounding 16.
“Obesity is such a serious problem and I know how hard it is to get out of that pit once you’re in there,” Flinn said.
The incredible feat gave Flinn the opportunity to meet a hero of hers: Oprah Winfrey.
“I always wanted to meet Oprah. I got to tell her everything. I talked to her for 20 minutes,” she said.
The segment was taped but never aired on the show. Yet, Flinn’s Oprah adventure continues, as she will be interviewed by Oprah’s longtime personal trainer, Bob Greene, on XM radio.
If 874 miles was not enough, Flinn already has another challenge lined up for spring 2009.
She will walk from Chicago to New York City, then to Washington, D.C., to try and gain an audience with President Barack Obama. If all that works out, then she is going to walk from D.C. to Hollywood.
“I want to help America, I want to bring awareness to obesity in this nation,” she said. “I’m putting together a Web site where people can walk with me. I’d like to inspire people to take a year of their life and walk every day.”
For more information on Debra Flinn and her incredible journey, visit: DEBRAFLINN.ORG. On the site you can also purchase a copy of her book called “From Desperate to Dandridge,” a firsthand account of her walk to Tennessee.