Worn-Out Shoes Don't Deter Walkin' Willie

With 1,647 miles completed in his 3,280-mile cross-country walk to generate support for cancer research, William (Walkin' Willie) Croker's feet are not in the best of shape.

Croker was reached by telephone while soaking his feet in a motel room in Little Rock, Ark. He has completed approximately half of his planned trek.

"I'm a little tired, but I'm holding up," he said, adding that the soles of the second pair of tennis shoes he has worn on the trip have large holes in them. "When I get to Memphis (Friday), I'm going to get some leather shoes."

Croker, who left Hawaiian Gardens on April 20, said the mountains near Flagstaff, Ariz., have given him his most grueling moments. New Mexico, he said, was nice--"I met a lot of Indians"--and he characterized a stretch of Oklahoma as "200 miles of cows."

"It's me against the elements," said Croker, 39, whose frequent companions have been heat, high humidity and thunderstorms.

Croker, who is being accompanied by a crew of two in a pickup truck, has spent his nights in campgrounds, motels or on the sides of lonely roads.

He now has a beard--"I don't feel like shaving," he said--and has lost 26 pounds.

"It's sapping me, but I'm bound and determined to make it," said Croker, whose mother died of cancer. "Mentally, I'm still strong."

He is scheduled to arrive June 25 in Washington, where he hopes President Reagan will be among his welcomers.

Fund-raising events--a breakfast from 9 a.m. to noon and bingo from 1 to 4 p.m.--will be held Sunday at the VFW Hall, 12064 Centralia Road, Hawaiian Gardens. Money raised will help pay for Croker's expenses during the rest of his trip.

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