Walter Kozbiel has big dreams and many goals. His current goal is to walk more than 66 miles in one day, which would break the world record. “I feel like I could break that record. Maybe even walk 72 or 73 miles,” Kozbiel said. Although he’s walked in cities all over the country, he’s walked around Seattle for — to borrow lyrics from Billy Joel — “the longest time.”
Kozbiel was raised in Michigan and moved around to other Midwestern states. He left home when he was 18 and hasn’t been back to Michigan in years. Kozbiel had two siblings; both had disabilities. His sister Diane was in special education until she was 25. “Diane didn’t learn to tie her shoe or ride a horse until she left special education, which I think is interesting,” Kozbiel said. His brother Glenn ended up in a state development center in Coldwater, Michigan. “He only grew to be 3 feet tall and used to just cry in a crib all day. He lived to be 42 years old, though,” said Kozbiel. As for the rest of his family, Kozbiel doesn’t know them that well. When he went to his father’s funeral, he realized that he didn’t know any of his extended family. So, he doesn’t have too many ties to Michigan.
He likes to move around. “I’m the type of person who likes a change just to see what some other parts of the country is like,” said Kozbiel. His favorite place was Fort Wayne, Indiana. Kozbiel decided to move to Seattle just because he thought it sounded nice. It is nice. He’s been here for 14 years now. He’s been homeless and selling Real Change that entire time.
Though he’s been experiencing homelessness in Seattle for so long, he said he has nowhere else to go. Both of his siblings and his parents have passed away and Seattle is the closest thing he has to a home base. Besides selling the paper, Kozbiel is involved in many other activities. He is a medical healer and can help with pain, cuts and swelling. While he doesn’t have credentials, he says he has the abilities and likes to put them to use. He loves politics and is excited about the possibility of candidate Andrew Yang becoming president. Yang recently had a rally in Gas Works Park. Unfortunately Kozbiel couldn’t attend that rally. But, he’s really excited about the future.
While living in the Twin Cities, Kozbiel would walk from downtown Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul, which is more than 20 miles. He thinks that if he puts his mind to it, he could beat the record for walking 66 miles in one day — though he doesn’t think training will help.
Since he’s been busy selling the paper and walking around Seattle now for “the longest time,” he surely doesn’t plan on relaxing his gait anytime soon.
Walter Kozbiel is one of 300 active vendors selling Real Change. Each week a different vendor is featured. View previous vendor profiles.
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