Sometimes perseverance alone wins the race. And sometimes it walks hand in hand with a little bit of luck. Steve Baden discovered that at the Entrepreneurs in Action Walkathon held June 3-5 during the DSA Annual Meeting in Grapevine, Texas.

Baden, Vice President of Business Compliance for the Kirby Company, was one of nearly 100 direct selling executives to join the Direct Selling Education Foundation in support of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), which helps at-risk youth find their pathways to a brighter future.

Baden signed up for the event with one goal in mind: to walk as much as possible in order to raise money for NFTE’s initiatives. However, as he was leaving for his trip, he realized prizes were to be awarded in three categories, including Most Miles Walked. Baden was suddenly further incentivized.

“I looked at the Grand Prize and it was two nights in Las Vegas with spa privileges at a luxury hotel. And I thought, ‘Wow!’ My wife [Stephanie] and I are celebrating our 30th anniversary this year. We were planning to go to Phoenix for a wedding and some business. So we thought we’d make a whole anniversary celebration out of it—go to Sedona and the Grand Canyon and then on to Las Vegas, where she had never been,” he says.

So Baden was determined to win the Grand Prize—a two-night stay at the Aria. At the end of Day 1, he turned his numbers in and found he was well ahead of the other walkers. At the end of Day 2, he was even further ahead.

“I am waking up at five in the morning,” says Baden. “I must have walked the [Gaylord Texan] property at least eight times.”

On the last day Baden turned in his numbers: more than 42,000 steps. “I am well ahead; it’s in the bag,” he says.

But, alas, it was not. Another walker, Elad Daniel, CEO of DSA Supplier Member company WoodenArk, had overtaken him.

“I come back after the deadline and I see Elad on the leader board,” laughs Baden. “He has 19,000 steps on Day 2, and on Day 3 he has 37,000. He blew me away by 15,000 steps!”

Come to find out, Daniel participates in Ironman contests and was in training to run a marathon. He ran half a marathon the day before and close to a full marathon that morning. In total, he logged 57,249 steps during the three-day event.

“My wife was just howling,” says Baden. “I’d run into an Ironman.”

But Baden is one to never say die. He decided to approach Daniel to see if he would be willing to swap his prize for the two-night stay at the Peabody in Orlando that he had won for taking First Place.

“I finally catch him in his room,” Baden says. “I introduce myself and he just starts cracking up. He felt bad that he had beaten me, especially since he was just doing it for fun.”

During their conversation, Baden told DanieI he was taking his wife to Las Vegas to celebrate their anniversary. “Stop! It’s yours,” Daniel told him. “I am Israeli. I live in Tel Aviv and I would never use it.”

“I was just blown away,” Baden says. “He could not have been more gracious. He was such a gentleman. We had a good laugh about the whole thing, and now we are going to see about business prospects. So I made a good friend.”

And a memorable anniversary trip as well.

Baden and Daniel were not the only participants who demonstrated a competitive streak during the Walkathon. Joseph Di Ciacco, Vice President of Carico International, Inc., racked up enough steps to take second place, receiving an all-expenses-paid, one-night stay for two at the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, with golf.