Walter was born in Pensacola, FL but spent most of his life in Dothan, AL.
He is the son of Guy, a retired mechanic and Randy, a surgical nurse at Baptist Hospital.
Running has been a part of his life since he was a reservist in the Army, but now he runs to demonstrate that despite unexpected circumstances, he can.
“My name is Walter Beckman. I usually go by Joey. [Starting in 2008] I was in the Army reserves as a 74 Delta, chemical operations specialist and a corrections officer for the state of Alabama. I went completely blind 4 1/2 years ago due to a fun unknown birth defect in my brain.”
In May 2012 Joey (age 24) started experiencing severe fever, seizures and soon became unresponsive. He underwent brain surgery due to arteriovenous malformation (AVM), which the Mayo Clinic defines as, “a tangle of abnormal blood vessels connecting arteries and veins in the brain.” As a result of pressure on his brain and hemorrhaging, Joey’s optical nerve was damaged, resulting in blindness. He had some immediate learning curves after recovering from surgery but in no way did that slow him down. By May of 2013 Joey was attending the Louisiana Center for the Blind’s Adult Program to adapt to his new way of life.
He didn’t spend any time before taking his not-so-ideal circumstances and embracing them.
After a short stay back home in Dothan, AL, he kept busy with CrossFit workouts and competed in local competitions! In August of 2015 Joey and his family moved to Orlando, Florida in hopes of finding him work. With little luck the Beckmans moved to Pensacola in May of 2016.
Throughout his journey Joey has continued to run including some of Disney’s best 5k’s! He says, “The reason I like running is because before I went blind it was a way for me to get out and just calm my mind. Now being blind it is something that I can do to prove that blind people are a lot more capable than what most people think.”
Joey reached out to Running Wild in August, 2016 for training support for the Inaugural Lumiere’s Two-Course Challenge. This challenge is the Wine & Dine 10k run on Saturday AND the Half-Marathon on Sunday, a total of 19.3 miles! Since Joey reached out for running buddies, he has ran consistently with Coach Lynne Virant and Alissa Ramsey (runner in our Marathon Training Program) at 6@6 group runs or Saturday morning runs.
Outside of training for races, Joey recently enrolled at UWF to finish his history and psychology degrees. He currently has 3 1/2 years of schooling under his belt and holding and “A” in his first class back!
What’s a typical day for you?
“The usual day is class, CrossFit and running.”
Besides the normal daily grind, how do you like to spend your time?
“As for things that I like to do outside of the normal grind it would be spent with my guide dog Miley, watching movies, listening to electronic or dance music, and playing Pokémon go. Oh yeah and visiting Disney as much as possible!”
What drives you to keep going when things get tough?
“I refuse to be just another statistic so I push myself as much as possible to do everything that I could when I was sighted.”
Alissa Ramsey said it best, “I could not have asked for a better running buddy. It is a privilege and honor to help pace Joey. One of the first things you will learn about him is that his sense of humor is contagious. There hasn’t been a run where I haven’t laughed out loud at something he has said. His zeal for life and achieving goals is always inspiring. Whether it be striving for an “A” on a test or paper at school, helping his family with a project at home or running a faster mile, he gives it his all. He is competitive and likes pushing himself to new levels- two qualities we have in common that helps as running buddies. His fitness has increased quickly and I hope to be able to keep up with him as his training continues! We are planning on running the 2017 Double Bridge Run together and I am excited for the opportunity to run alongside him on race day. Knowing Joey, he means business when it comes to training. After the Pensacola Marathon I am going to put in extra work to make sure I will have the speed needed to achieve his race goals. Can’t wait!”
This weekend (November 4th and 5th) is the Inaugural Lumiere’s Two-Course Challenge that Joey will be running.
We are all so excited for him and will be cheering him on from Pensacola! As you can see, he’ll have plenty of cheerleaders!