Number one Rule, everyone walk

Mentor and author gives his first public address

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o Contact Dale Rule, purchase his “Is the Prize Worth the Price?” book or make a donation to

o Join the next 24-hour walk from 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, to 10 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 20, at Doc Harris Stadium

A simple walk on a trail in a small town gives Dale Rule goose bumps when he thinks of about how much inspiration generates from putting one foot in front of the other.

The 43-year-old Camas High School football coach and 24 Hour Fitness employee published a book in September about his odyssey to overcome obesity. He also made his first public address June 4, at Liberty Middle School. He asked them to donate $1 dollar a month toward his vision of building parks with designated walking trails in cities across the country.

“Obesity is the number one killer in America. Everybody has this scientific method to try and beat it,” Rule said. “You know what I did? I started walking, and it saved my life.”

o Contact Dale Rule, purchase his "Is the Prize Worth the Price?" book or make a donation to

o Join the next 24-hour walk from 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, to 10 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 20, at Doc Harris Stadium

The first step

Rule’s journey dates back to seeing an unflattering photo of himself six years ago. He stepped on the scale and was surprised to see he weighed 363 pounds. At that moment, Rule knew if he didn’t do something drastic, he was not going to live long enough to see his kids to grow up and have children of their own.

Rule and his wife, Lya, went for their first walk together. It took 41 minutes to reach one mile. The next day, Rule walked another mile. Then four miles. Then 10 miles from his home up on Prune Hill, down to the Heritage Trail around Lacamas Lake, and back up again.

Do the ridiculous

During his walking peak, Rule averaged 19 miles a day for 72 days in a row. He lost 140 pounds during that first year of trail blazing every day. Then came an epiphany to walk for 24 straight hours and to start a non-profit organization to raise awareness of obesity.

“We were driving to the zoo, listening to the radio, and they were talking about doing a 24 hour radio-a-thon for a cause,” Rule said. “I asked my wife, ‘Do you think I could walk for 24 consecutive hours?’ Her exact words were, ‘There’s something wrong with you.’ We both kind of laughed it off, but a seed had already been planted in my brain.”

Rule has organized four 24-hour walks in Camas. His miles have increased with every attempt. The number of participants in each event multiplied from tens, to hundreds to thousands of walkers. Friends, colleagues, community leaders and strangers have all joined him in this march.

“This is what these walks are all about, bringing communities together,” Rule said. “Not everybody is heavy or obese, but everybody knows someone — family member, a friend or a colleague — who struggles with weight. Every person who comes to the track walks, and at some point has introduced themselves to me, and thanked me for what I’m doing.”

Addicted to food

People are addicted to many different vices. Rule says you can’t live without eating.

“If you over eat, you die. If you don’t eat, you die. So you’ve got to find it right in the middle,” he said. “Food is relational. Food is family. Food is celebration. Food is recovery.”

Rule deals with food addiction every day, especially during the holidays.

“You can’t eat cake every day, but can you take a bite of cake and be satisfied with that?” he asked. “Mentally, you go through this battle because it’s sitting there. So, you give in and have a piece. And a piece becomes four. And then, you look in the mirror and say, ‘You’re such a loser.’ You’re your own worst critic.”

This is the biggest challenge Rule has been given in life. He said he has too much respect for the people he has met on this journey to let them down.

A family journey

Rule loves his sons, Joey, Jeffrey and Josh. A walk on the trail together gives them all an opportunity to talk about life and peer pressures with no distractions from a television or a mobile device.

“I tell my kids, ‘You were born into the Rule family. God has placed expectations and responsibilities in our life. The way we’re going to behave, the way we’re going to act and the things we’re going to do,” Rule said. “And the beautiful thing is, they reenforce it right back to me by going on these walks together. There’s accountability that’s held into place on both sides.”

Rule said the walks with his wife are priceless.

“Walking will save marriages. Everyone says money is the biggest cause of divorce. No, lack of communication is the biggest cause of divorce,” he said. “You fell in love for a reason. You married that person for a reason. If you would go for a walk with that person every day, you would be shocked by the things you would find to talk about. And you would fall in love all over again every day.”

Dale and Lya Rule have yelled, cried and laughed on their walks together. He said it hasn’t saved their marriage, but it’s made them stronger.

“We don’t commit to have dinner together. We don’t commit to go to the bar together. We don’t commit to watch a show together. We commit to go for a walk together,” he said. “It’s just her and I talking about life. Remembering why we love each other and dreaming about our future together.”

Trail blazer to writer

All of these stories are detailed in Rule’s book, titled “Is the Prize Worth the Price?”

Rule said he never wanted to write a book. Actually, he was adamantly against it. A conversation with friend Don Lovell changed his whole outlook.

“He said, ‘You talk about being a man of God, and you love the Lord. God has given you this gift, and you’re too selfish to share it with other people?'” Rule said. “That stabbed me right in the heart, but he did it out of love. So guess what I started doing next week? Writing the book.”

Midway through the book, Rule hit a rough patch in his life. He had surgery to repair a torn shoulder. Doctors told him he couldn’t walk for two weeks. While he was recuperating, Lya — who has multiple sclerosis — had to work three different jobs.

Rule sank into depression. While the Papermaker football team was playing in the state championship game, he was at the darkest point of his life.

“It was my greatest moment in coaching, and I couldn’t enjoy it,” Rule said. “I didn’t know what to do. I’d never been depressed like that in my whole life.”

Rule turned to Lovell for advice. Lovell suggested reading “From a Name to a Number,” by Holocaust survivor Alter Wiener.

“I bought Alter’s book that night and read it cover to cover,” Rule said. “The next day, I looked in the mirror and said, ‘You selfish, selfish person.'”

Rule went to one of Wiener’s public speeches at David Douglas High School, in Portland. Wiener invited him to his home to talk about Rule’s story. He asked Rule two questions that changed the whole dynamic of his story.

“He asked me, ‘Are you bitter about your life growing up?'” Rule said. “I told him, ‘There isn’t a day that goes by that I’ve been bitter. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t go through what I went though. And I’m here today, so it can’t be that bad.'”

Wiener’s second question stopped Rule dead in his tracks.

“He said, ‘Dale, why were you so fat?’ My canned response was, ‘I love food.’ And he said, ‘Dale, everybody loves food. I haven’t met a person who doesn’t like food. Why were you so fat?'” Rule said. “I didn’t have an answer for him. He said, ‘If you can’t write about the two questions I just asked you, you’ll never have the impact you think you can have.'”

Rule was off and writing again. He finished the rest of the book on a stationary bike while working graveyard shifts as a front desk clerk at 24 Hour Fitness. He published it just in time for his next 24 hour walk.

Just keep walking

Rule writes “is the prize or the price” on the mirror he looks at every day. If it starts to look like wallpaper, he’ll erase and write the message down in a different place with a different color pen. Those words have molded into his brain, along with honesty and accountability.

“If I can be honest and accountable to that person in the mirror, which is myself, I can do that about anything,” Rule said. “I’m tired. I’m not going to lie. You throw football into the mix and it’s 90 hours a week.”

He’s not about to break his number one Rule to walk every day, because the prize is worth the price

“What if I stayed home so I could sleep an extra hour and I didn’t meet that one person on the trail, told them my story and possibly saved their life? What if drives me. What if puts me on this trail,” Rule said. “The worst you can do every day is go for a walk. The best thing you can do is go for a walk and whatever you want to do activity wise. But on your worst day, just go for a walk.”