Greenfield’s 500-mile-walking advocate finishes up

  • Jeremy Williams, of Greenfield, finished his 500-mile walk to celebrate volunteers on Wednesday. His daughter Lilly Williams, 10, holds a sign with the communities he walked in. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Greenfield’s Jeremy Williams, seen here with his wife, Tina, and daughter Lilly finished his 500-mile walk to celebrate volunteers on the Greenfield Common on Wednesday. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 2/24/2019 8:05:22 PM

GREENFIELD — Jeremy Williams’ family beckoned him with signs and smiling faces as he took the last of approximately 1.2 million steps onto the Greenfield Common Wednesday. 

“It’s a big thing,” said his wife, Tina, while his daughter Lilly, 10, held a sign listing all the towns her father has traveled through since Jan. 1 — Amherst, Bernardston, Buckland, Charlemont, Deerfield, Gill, Greenfield, Leyden, Montague, Northfield, Shelburne and Sunderland. 

Williams began almost each day this year — Sundays were an exception and “rest day” — by stepping out of his apartment at Greenfield Gardens wearing a yellow jacket plastered with paper letters thanking nonprofit volunteers for their service.

He’s also held glittering signs over his head reading “CELEBRATE VOLUNTEERS” or “IF YOU VOLUNTEER U-R SUPER,” waiving at honking cars throughout his 500-mile trek.

“I’m not so sore today,” Williams said, adding that the positive feedback he’s received has been a constant boost to his morale. “A lot of it was pretty tough, tougher than I thought, but everybody was great. Lots of people would stop and talk, and say, ‘Thanks.’”

As Williams walked along, he would stop occasionally to change into an extra pair of socks he had at the ready, or take bites from a packed lunch, before heading back home. 

“In the evening, I just rested. Getting off my feet was about as much as I could do (to recover),” Williams said. “But that’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

With no regrets, Williams wants to find a way to do something similar for a career, either starting bike rides or walks to raise money for causes dear to him — Williams and his wife have been studying apps like Charity Miles, which tracks an advocate’s movement while raising money for different causes via donations and corporate sponsors. He’s always been an avid outdoorsman, and is passionate about volunteerism, but also recognizes his dream could be a challenge. 

“Just have to find a way to do it and make a living,” Williams said. 

Organizing fundraisers for homelessness or addiction are specific goals he has mentioned. As a recovering addict who has been sober for two years, Williams recognizes the difference family, friends and volunteers can make when they lend a helping hand to someone in need. 

Williams said the journey has also allowed him to become more personable, and even wants anyone reading about him to email him at That’s a far cry from his former self, who in the 1980s would be embarrassed if people saw him and think of him as crazy. Now 49 years old, he doesn’t care if passers-by judge him, which he knows happens. Thanking those who help others is what’s most important.

His wife, in particular, would make sure he was well fed after burning thousands of calories each day, so he doesn’t look “like a skeleton.”

“I made it through,” Williams said. “And I did it without collapsing.”

Reach David McLellan at or 413-770-0261, ext. 268. 

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