Troy University Fraternity Brothers Preparing to “Walk Hard” For Military Veterans
While many students are preparing to go South for Spring Break, one group will be walking 128 miles in six days, raising money for military veterans. Brothers of Troy University’s Alpha Tau Omega fraternity will be walking from the campus to the beaches of Panama City, Florida.
The annual Walk Hard fundraiser benefits Jeep Sullivan’s Wounded Warrior Outdoor Adventures. 2019 marks a milestone- ten years the benefit has taken place.
“It’s about supporting the veterans that Jeep helps through financially and just being around them through the walk,” 2019 ATO Walk Hard Director Gus McKenzie says. “It’s also about brotherhood- the guys that go through the walk are closer than they’ve ever been or ever would have wanted to be.”
The Walk Hard Campaign will begin Friday in front of Troy University’s fountain. The brothers will then walk eight to twelve hours each day for six days, until they reach Panama City’s Pier Park.
“Throughout each day, we’ve got checkpoints for the guys to kind of sit down, take care of their feet, take care of their blisters, and then make sure they stay hydrated and they have food,” McKenzie says.
This year, some first-time walkers have signed up. They say they’ve already started preparing for the obstacles they’re sure to face.
“We bought a lot of Gold Bond,” Josh Marvin says. “We’re going to be buying a lot of band-aids, wipes, tylenol, advil, things like that, granola bars.”
The physical pain is only one element. McKenzie says there is so much more the brothers will endure over the six day trek.
“You’ve got stuff we can’t control, the weather, how bad the traffic is, all those things that you have to avoid. If it gets super hot, you have to worry about dehydration. If it gets too cold, it’s just annoying and it hurts. If it rains, your feet are ruined.”
The walkers will also have a lot of motivation. Various churches along the route offer a place to stay during the night. There, wounded warriors tell stories about how they’ve been impacted by Jeep Sullivan. They also give encouragement to the walkers for their efforts.
“I know that pain like doesn’t even amount to the sacrifice that like people overseas are making for me, like fighting for my rights,” walker Brady Talbert says.
The Walk Hard participants are expected to arrive to Pier Park next Thursday.
The Walk Hard campaign has raised more than $100,000 since the fundraiser started ten years ago.