UDALL, Kan. (KSNW) – A Kansas man is garnering national attention for his patriotism and positive outlook on life.
“I would say that my ultimate goal would be just spreading inspiration, spreading love, and bringing unity,” said Derek Redenius.
Redenius, a Udall native, joined the National Guard in March of 1998. He was just 17 years old at the time.
“I wanted to serve my country, and then just the guard turned out to be perfect for me because I get to be a civilian. I get to do that in life, and I also get to serve my country. Also, being in the guard, I get to help my neighbor,” he explained.
When Redenius is not serving our country as an engineer, he works with his father, driving semis across the Midwest. But, it was behind the wheel of his semi, he said he had a revelation.
“I struggled staying active by sitting in the seat for 10 to 12 hours a day, so I prayed, and I asked for guidance, and I needed help, and finally one morning October 1st of last year, I woke up, and I heard the Lord tell me ‘let’s go for a walk,'” Redenius said.
That’s exactly what Redenius did. He put on his boots, strapped on a 25-pound vest, grabbed an American flag, and set out on a 5-mile walk along Kansas Highway 15.
“As I saw traffic coming and stuff, I would wave, and more times than not, I got waves back, and I got responses. When I got home, I was blessed by just seeing the people. They gave me inspiration, like hey, I see you, I acknowledge you and I thought, I am going to do this again tomorrow and I grabbed my flag, and I trucked on again the next day, and it carried on for well, until now,” he said.
On his walks, Redenius would record short videos talking about overcoming life struggles, staying optimistic and his faith in God. He would then post them to social media. Since he began in October 2021, he has gained nearly 60,000 TikTok followers.
“It was an inspiration to me, but in turn, I was an inspiration to other people, inspiring other people, and I didn’t realize how big it was going to get until it did,” Redenius said.
Redenius, known to many as the Walking Patriot, has been honored at area rodeos and asked to lead parades. But, while he has become an internet and local sensation, he said his real takeaway from it all is his personal growth.
“It has grown my faith 100 times. I have always believed in God. I have always had a relationship with God, but this changed my relationship with God,” he said.
He hopes his faith can inspire others to spread love.
“It doesn’t always feel like it’s easy to be nice, but it’s the right thing to do, and if you are always doing the right thing, you can never be wrong,” he said. “You can still smile, you can still acknowledge, you can still wave, you can still show appreciation to people, and to me, I think that’s what the world needs right now.”