Tuesday, June 6, 2023 was much like the previous 24 days for Ron Goch.
He woke up, got dressed, ate, prayed and took one step forward.
Then another … and another … and another.
About 31,400 steps later, he was finished for the day. The local board member was walking across the state of Utah to raise awareness and funds for FCA.
“Today was the earliest the sun has come up, and I was replacing my beanie with a bucket hat only 30 minutes into my walk, and tucked my hoodie away shortly thereafter,” he wrote in that day’s entry for his online journal. “It was a beautiful day for a walk and I had great energy from start to finish.”
Around 40 years ago, FCA impacted Goch when he played football and ran track at Winona State University in Minnesota. He remained involved in the ministry after graduating and moving to Ogden, Utah, where he currently works as the Associate Athletic Director at Weber State University.
Around 13 years ago, he realized FCA was not present in Utah, and he talked to Mike Sanfratello, Regional Vice President of the Rockies, about FCA’s absence in his state. A year later, FCA officially had a presence. Goch became involved as a board member, helping plan the vision and strategy for FCA in his state and ensuring FCA is available for coaches and athletes at his university.
Josh Longoria, current FCA Utah State Director, has observed Goch’s impact at his university and beyond on FCA’s behalf.
“He’s willing to do life and pour into these students,” he said. “People talk about the ministry of presence, and you see it with him.”
Knowing it’s difficult to do ministry without dedicated staff, a year ago Goch brought up an idea: Walk across Utah to raise awareness and funding for additional FCA staff in the state, particularly in the south. The team was all for it.
“The FCA Utah team and FCA Utah State Board teammates … have been incredibly supportive and encouraging ever since we shared the idea of the walk,” he wrote. “Mike Sanfratello has been an awesome teammate since Day 1 when we pursued bringing FCA to Utah, and when we shared the idea of the Walk Across Utah.”
In preparation, Goch logged more than 1,300 training miles. As he set out, he witnessed Utah’s beautiful countryside and began spending his days telling others about the organization that changed his relationship with Christ some 40 years ago.
While he made many preparations, one of the key aspects was planning footwear. New Balance is his shoe of choice, and he kept three pairs available: the ones he was currently using; another for when those wear out; and a third that are a half-size bigger for when his feet swelled but he didn’t want to stop.
Blisters were a constant, but nothing he couldn’t deal with. The weather, he said, was overall glorious with some morning showers on a few days.
Each day, Goch or someone else drove his car to the end point of his walk. When it was Goch, someone gave him a ride back to the starting point for that day. This cut down on the number of places he stayed during the walk. Nevertheless, it gave him the chance to stay with those who offered up their homes—members of a local church who weren’t connected to FCA but wanted to know more.
His car also became a mobile billboard, with a large magnet advertising the walk and its connections to FCA. A QR code linked to more information.
Goch’s 500-mile Walk Across Utah from Idaho to the Arizona border required a lot of water, well over a million steps, and – it felt like – just as many CLIF bars.
He shared his observations in his online journals, along with answers to questions people asked him. One wanted to know the role his faith and prayers have played into his excursion.
“The walk is something God placed on my heart to do and He’s been my teammate in this journey since my first training walk,” Goch said. “I pray prior to and following each walk, and know it’s His strength that sustains me daily.”
Perhaps he was walking alone for most of the days. But Goch is emphatic that he couldn’t have done it without help. As he walked across Utah, he had his teammates support and could feel God was with him.
Photos courtesy of Ron Goch