An Ohio man is running across the country to fight stigma surrounding former inmates

INDIANAPOLIS – An Ohio man is running more than 3,000 miles from Los Angeles to New York to raise awareness about the stigma attached to people with criminal records.

Cam Williams, 29, of Columbus, is running an average of 45 miles per day over 93 days. The founder of People Objective is stopping in a number of cities along the way to capture stories of people coming home from incarceration, along with the organizations and employers that help them readjust to society.

The result of his journey will be a documentary film on the challenges people face when they return home from jail or prison, including difficulty finding employment or even landing interviews and being rejected for housing.

"People get incarcerated and they do their time, and then when they're released they have all these barriers attached to them that don't allow them to find homes or jobs," said Williams, former director of the nonprofit Center for Employment Opportunities in Columbus.

The trek has not been without challenges, both mental and physical.

Williams had shin splints early in the journey, so he spent a few days in pain through the eastern California desert.

Mentally, the most difficult part is going to sleep at night knowing he has to wake up at 5 a.m. to run another 45 miles.

"It feels overwhelming thinking, 'Oh, I've got to be out here until 5 p.m. on this road with traffic coming right at my face, hoping they're not texting and driving,'" he said.

Williams' strategy to make it through includes focusing on positive things, no matter how small. Something as simple as a good song, a phone call from a friend or an interaction with a stranger can break a slump.

"Now my legs have gotten used to it. My mind feels more and more settled each day," he said. "And I'm just ready to finish it now."