Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hell Walk 2012 : Josh Tate Takes Doing Good To the Extreme Once More


For the second year in a row, Bad Robot employee and all around great guy Josh Tate is pushing the limits by walking 100 miles straight in 24 hours for a good cause. This year, instead of completing the 100 miles by walking around in a circle, he is taking to the streets and turning Los Angeles itself into his course, starting at USC Saturday and ending at the Dirt Cheap Sound Stage where the whole event took place last year, on Sunday, where it will be followed by a giant party. Oh, and he's walking for 32 hours - not 24. Whats his course look like? It must be seen to be believed. Follow the red. And then follow the jump.






We sat down with Josh last week to discuss this year's Hell Walk and in the process, got even more of an in depth look at the entire process, including its humble beginnings. 

The seed of Hell Walk, as the seed of many a great life change is, was a break up. When told he wasn't a serious enough person by an old girlfriend, Josh took a look at his life and reevaluated. Determined to start giving back, he began volunteering, but he felt like it wasn't enough,

"I was like, “Fuck this. This is not giving me any sort of spiritual fulfillment at all.” And I realize that was not very good--that doesn’t really speak well to my soul. So I was literally at Sonny McLeans, at the bar, with Melanie. I was literally just at the bar and I was telling her this exact story. And I don’t know how we got to this subject, but we started talking about the idea of having your own charity, because what I started realizing was that--I’m not a guy who’s good at taking direction, I’d rather just take the lead. And so, we started talking about what kind of charity we would do. And I remember just kind of saying, “Wouldn’t it be funny if I just walked around this bar for 24 hours as a walk-a-thon?” And we all kind of laughed it off. But then I was like, “Wait a minute, that’s actually a really good idea.”...Melanie actually has a picture of me at the bar buying the domain name. ...The next night I woke up and I was like, “What the fuck was I thinking? That was a terrible idea.” But I was like, “You know what, it’s a good thing to do.” And so if I kind of like--have you ever, well-- it’s called pot-committing in poker, where you have so much money in the game that you kind of have to keep playing. And so I kind of decided to sort of “pot-commit” myself to this charity. I decided to start buying T-shirts, making them, and then selling them. And I started to announce that I’m going to do this."

I was on site for the end of last years event, the complete recap of which you can find here, but it wasn't until now I realized just how far Josh had pushed his body leading up to the 24 hour walking extravaganza,

"…next thing you know, it’s April 30th, the day I’m starting it, and we were going to start it at 8am, but all my friends were like, “No, no, have it at night because we wanna be there at the end.” So at the last minute, I’m like, “Fine we’ll have it at night.” So I wake up in the morning at six o’clock on Saturday, April 30th, and all day long I’m getting ready at the sound stage. I’m getting set up: getting a bouncy castle put in there, getting all the beer chilled, getting the course put together. I’d never even been on the course. I’d never even walked 100 feet until that day because I was afraid if I did it would freak me out! [After building the course,] I went home to nap. I didn’t nap at all. So, I started walking at 8 o’clock that night, and I was already pretty sleepy--because I’d already been awake for 14 hours! I was ready for bed!" 

The day itself definitely lived up to it's name. This isn't called Hell Walk for shits and giggles.

"And so I started at 8 o’clock that night, and there was a big party. The other part of the Hell Walk was that everyone else would be having a lot of fun and I’d be by myself walking. So, literally, they were having a party on the other side of the stage. My friend John brewed some beer. People were all hanging out. There was loud music playing... And I was just by myself in a circle. Eventually, people left. The worst part was around five in the morning, when I had been walking for about nine hours. I had never walked through the night. I was ready to quit, and then the valet that we have here at work showed up, and my boss here at work showed up. And then the guys took the lights on the top of the sound stage and blocked them out. And I asked them, “Can you guys just get those in here so we have some light in here.” And when light came in, I felt fine--even though I had fifteen hours left to go."

By the time I arrived, the atmosphere was amazing, everyone pumped to see Josh cross the finish line as he got his second…or third…or fourth…or 16th wind,

"We watched movies when we were there, so we had something to do. We watched The Fellowship of the Ring, The Freshman, Amadeus. That night, at 7:55, I knew I was gonna make it. I only had 5 minutes to go. My friend’s band, who is playing at Hell Walk [on Sunday], started playing “500 Miles”, by The Proclaimers. That’s what I asked my friend and his band to play when there was five minutes left. So he did and I started running. I had so much energy! And then I heard this big count-down. And then it was 8 o’clock! I was dying. I walked for 24 hours without any resting. I took one-minute bathroom breaks, but that was it."

 It was a truly joyous occasion, food and drinks were plentiful, the music was great, and Josh was surrounded by friends and co-workers including his very supportive boss, JJ Abrams,

"Three days before Hell Walk, J.J. Abrams and his wife told me that whatever I was short for this fundraiser, they would pay the difference, because they knew I wanted to raise $25,000 for this charity called Children’s Hope Chest. So we ended up raising the whole amount. A month later, I decided I’d do it again."

In planning Hell Walk 2, Josh knew he wanted to get even crazier. He started by entertaining the idea of walking on a treadmill blindfolded, but quickly realized that was a bad idea, when after 30 minutes, he was completely disoriented. Then it hit him,

"I thought, “I need something with a good story.” … I’ll walk for 100 miles without stopping, through LA."

He switched up the charity too, beginning a trend that will continue every year, lending aid to different charities Josh feels passionate about,

"We are going to donate the money to a group called The Special Operations Warrior Foundation.  What they do is-- special operations or green bourets, delta force, army rangers, all those people-- they have the highest casualty rates of any unit in the military because they are in the most perilous combat situations.  So, when I was a kid, I remember my father came home really upset one day.  A plane full of his friends crashed and they all died.  At the time, I didn’t really understand what the big deal was.  I mean, I understood death, but it was a very abstract concept.  But when I look back on it, I’m like, “Holy shit, every single one of those guys had kids.” So every one of those kids lost a parent. And so, we decided a long time ago that this would be for military kids that lost a parent. It took a long time for us to find a charity that really focused on that specifically in the way we wanted it to.  I wanted it to be a college scholarship thing.  What Children’s Defense--a charity we work with here--did was help me see how giving scholarships for college changes lives.  So we finally found this group, Special Operations Warrior Foundation. That’s exactly what they do.  Kids of special operations soldiers who are killed in Afghanistan get scholarships.  The military does help with casualty pay, but that’s only helpful if you wanna go to San Jacinto Community College. They can maybe cover that.  But what if you’re an amazing kid with a bright future, and one day your dad dies and your whole life gets turned upside down?  For that kid who wanted to go to Harvard, Yale, or MIT, this organization can provide scholarships for that."

Last year's charity, Children's Hope Chest, was so grateful, they even donated back to Hell Walk 2 this year. Awe.

This year also had tons of events leading up to Hell Walk 2, adding more of a year round feel. Before American Reunion was released several months ago, Josh held a special screening for 200 vets, their family and friends, featuring an introduction by director Chris Moore. A couple months later, a Hell Walk 2 Bar Crawl spent the day at Sonny McLeans, JPs and Big Deans, raising money through selling t-shirts and taking donations as supporters simply had a great time all day and got to know Josh and his cause. Finally, last week, Sonny McLean's hosted a Raffle Party, where amazing prizes ranging from signed posters and scripts to DVD box sets to $100 gift certificates to fancy restaurants were raffled off. My group won three seasons of Fringe and a $50 bar certificate, so we were feeling pretty good. That night alone raised over $5000 towards Josh's $50,000 goal. 

So what's the best way for you to get involved? If you like walking you can track Josh's route live, form a team, and come down and join him, anywhere along the way. 

So next Saturday, at 8 o’clock in the morning, I’m gonna start at USC, which is where I trained last year. I’m gonna start working through LA and I’m just gonna keep going for 100 miles. This year we have about a hundred people walking different parts of the course with me. These people who are joining me are navy seals, some models from Abercrombie and fitch, some Playboy gals, some people from Bad Robot…To join, go on the website and click “Join a Team”, right in the middle of the page.  Because we want people to either lead their own team, or join another team. All you do is click on that button and enter your email address, and someone from Hell Walk will contact you and ask you when you’re available and when you want to do it. The course starts at USC, and it winds through downtown LA, and it goes into China Town, and it goes into Silver Lake, then to Los Filez, then Koreatown, then Hollywood, then West Hollywood, then Beverly Hills, then Century City, then Brentwood, Santa Monica, Venice, Mar Vista, and then it starts bending back at that point, through Santa Monica.  But it’s literally all over.  To find 100 miles is not easy in LA."

If you're more inclined to come for the party portion of the event and cheer Josh on as he concludes his 100 miles, that too is an option,

"The actual party, like the Hell Walk party we had last year, is gonna be at 11 o’clock on July 1 and go till 4 o’clock. The party planner from Bad Robot actually planned the event. The cook downstairs is gonna make some food for us. He is having a taco truck. My friend John is brewing beer. Bands are coming out….there’s a jumping castle."
Bad Robot chef Mike Doutt prepares pork shoulder for Sunday's gourmet tacos. Holy Hell Walk.

After last years' success and the excitement building up to this year, Josh is feeling more positive than ever about the do-it-yourself charity model and wants to help others follow in his footsteps by starting a brand new instructional website,

"It's a great interactive thing... I think more people would start charities if they knew how to.  It would be good to have more of *this* instead of having these massive charities where 40% goes to overhead, and 60% goes to their actual core mission. You know, for this, there’s just me. I don’t take any money, except for the charge the credit card companies take for making a donation.  We send all of it, we send about 95% of everything directly to the charity.  So, my idea for “diycharity.com” is to create it for every state where if you’re like “I live in Alabama and I want to create a charity for hurricanes,” this website helps you do it.  You fill in your information and it prints and shows you all the instructions, shows you all the forms, shows you how much things are going to cost, and it gives you partners you might want to work with that already exist. And then, you can kinda fix it yourself.  But sometimes its easier to, instead of trying to raise $100,000 to fix one thing, it can be easier for 10 people to raise $10,000 to do that, I think.  Or if you just wanna, I dunno, build a bench for your senior citizens home that’s down the street.  “Here’s five grand. Now go think of a crazy idea to go raise five grand, and here’s how to do it”.  

Are you as inspired as I am? If so, join me, Josh Tate, Bad Robot, Identity Studios, the Producers Guild, SAG-AFTRA, and tons more for some of the walk Saturday (Join a team!) and the big celebration on Sunday. Be sure to donate at hellwalk.com and follow @hellwalk2012 on Twitter for updates on the route.

About Hell Walk 2 
Hell Walk is a transparent organization with no bureaucracy. None of the funds raised will go to supporting any infrastructure or pay any salaries or expenses. All funds raised for Hell Walk 2 will go to fund five college scholarships (at $10,000 each) for military children who have lost their parents due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Josh explains, "as the son of an Air Force veteran, I have always understood the immense sacrifices that our servicemen, servicewomen, and their families make every day. Too often, the sacrifice is the ultimate one. I know in my heart, [that raising $50k to go towards scholarships] will be the best thing I have EVER done in my life." Follow Hell Walk 2 on Twitter at @HellWalk2012 and "Like" Hell Walk 2 on Facebook at:https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hell-Walk-2/269714799753130.

0 comments: