Community feature: Columbus resident to run 3,000 miles to raise awareness for formerly incarcerated

Erica Thompson
Cam Williams

A couple of years ago, Cam Williams had dinner with a friend and his friend's 10-year-old son. Williams announced he would be running 50-mile days, back to back.

“You're not running 50 miles,” the boy said. “No one can run 50 miles.”

“There's just a perception in our culture that our bodies are so limited by what our mind thinks we can and cannot do,” Williams said.

He not only completed those 50-mile runs, but will embark on an approximately 3,000-mile run from Los Angeles to New York City, beginning on Sunday, April 21, and wrapping up on July 29.

“I started running when I was 18,” Williams said. “I felt myself gaining confidence in other parts of my life, of being able to achieve things that I didn't think were possible.”

But Williams, who likes to challenge himself with extreme physical activities from mountain biking to “aggressive backpacking,” is not just running for himself. Dubbed “The Run for People,” the three-month trek will raise awareness for barriers faced by the formerly incarcerated. It is the first public-facing initiative of his LLC, People Objective, which assists with inclusive workforce development.

During his journey, Williams will interview people re-entering society, as well as organizations and employers that mitigate challenges of adjusting to life after incarceration. He is being sponsored by organizations and individual donors. After covering operational costs, Williams will donate funds to the Center for Employment Opportunities, which serves former inmates.

Following a going-away party at Two Dollar Radio, where he worked as a bartender, Williams and a support person packed up his Subaru and camper and headed west.

Williams will pass through Columbus on his run in July, and has plans to throw a kickoff event before resuming his trek. He'll also be documenting the entire trip on video.

Williams' history of advocating for the formerly incarcerated was born from a desire to see them treated with more respect and offered equitable opportunities.

“I have 12 people that have some sort of criminal records that have greatly influenced some part of me,” he said.

And he traces his love for all people back to his childhood.

“I grew up in a family that welcomed everybody into our home,” he said. “My grandfather often invited strangers to Christmas that didn't have another place to go. And so I think that mentality is part of me.”

To contribute to The Run for People,