Most people don’t walk 130 miles in 6 months, let alone in 6 days, but members of the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity at Troy University did just that as the organization’s annual Walk Hard Memorial Walk finished on March 9.
Developed at Troy University in 2009, Walk Hard has become a model event for ATO fraternity chapters across the United States.
The event is a fundraiser for the awareness and support of military wounded warriors, and has been embraced by communities in Alabama, where the event started on March 3 at Troy University, and Florida, where the event ended at Pier Park in Panama City Beach on March.
Washington County Commissioner Tray Hawkins and Liberty Church in Vernon, Florida have supported the event, housing and feeding the large group of students as they near the end of their trek.
‘Our church decided early on that we would do whatever we could to embrace this group of young men’, said Hawkins at the church ‘Son Rise Youth Camp’ on Monday, March 6 in Vernon, Florida, ‘and the effort yields dividends to all who participate’.
Walk Hard 2017 proceeds will go to Jeep and Meg Sullivan, who head up Jeep Sullivan’s Wounded Warrior Outdoor Adventures, Inc., and who accompany the walkers during their journey, with proceeds supporting their ministry of work with veterans in the outdoors.
Monday, March 6 saw an ‘all hands on deck’ effort at the Liberty Church campgrounds. as a large group of volunteers prepared and served food, and another group ministered to the sunburns, blisters and other maladies caused by the long walk, but literally all involved sported smiles on their faces.
Washington County Sheriff Kevin Crews and Tray Hawkins spoke to the young men after their arrival in Vernon, sharing stories and jokes while keeping a close eye on those who literally needed to be carried due to their injured feet.
‘We are fortunate to have a giving, loving community’, said Jeep Sullivan as the dinner meal was served, ‘and tonight these young men will hear from one of our wounded warriors about his return to normal life and his challenges with PTSD and other medical problems’.
Many community businesses and partners stepped up to make Walk Hard 2017 the most successful event thus far, and the effort is not unnoticed.
‘These young students make this sacrifice to bring awareness and funding to assist our returning veterans, and we are proud to be a part of this effort’, said Tray Hawkins.
Already plans are being discussed for Walk Hard 2018, and if you would like to be involved you ca contact Ryan Renfrow, the Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity philanthropy chairman, at 205-908-7706.
See more photos and video clips on Facebook at Real Florida Magazine, online at www.RealFloridaMagazine.org, and listen to interviews with business owners, community leaders and event organizers on FPTC Radio, the voice of Florida Panhandle Technical College at www.FPTCRadio.com.