Walking barefoot for poverty
Hanson donates $1 for every walker
Published: Sunday, October 25, 2009
Updated: Sunday, October 25, 2009 18:10
More than 400 people walked one mile barefoot with Hanson around the UCF campus on Saturday to help fight AIDS and poverty in Africa.
The walk was in partnership with TOMS Shoes, a nonprofit organization that gives one pair of shoes to a person in need for every pair of TOMS Shoes purchased. Hanson, the Grammy-nominated pop trio from Oklahoma, donated $1 for every person who registered and participated in the walk.
"This is not an awareness walk," Taylor Hanson said. "This is an action walk."
Since last fall, more than 30,000 people have walked to support TOMS and shoe the shoeless in Africa, Hanson said. Hanson himself has walked 133 miles for the cause.
Registration began at 11:30 a.m. in front of the campus bookstore in the John T. Washington Center. The event was free, but participants could purchase Take the Walk, Hanson's book detailing the fight to end poverty and AIDS in Africa, with a percentage of the book sales going directly to TOMS. Participants also could enter to win a gift package that included a $50 TOMS gift card and a documentary on the cause.
"I'm here to support TOMS and the kids in Africa," said Dan Buchalter, a junior finance major. "I'm not worried about walking in the heat on campus barefoot because the kids in Africa do it every day."
Although the walk was aimed at providing shoes for those in need in Africa, participants could pledge their walk for a variety of different causes, such as building a school, drilling a fresh water well and providing adequate health care for mothers living with AIDS.
"I'm partaking in the walk because I think it's a good cause. It's definitely worth the risk to walk barefoot," April Brown, a sophomore accounting major, said.
About 300 people were registered for the walk at 12:30 p.m., said Emily McGone, vice president of TOMS at UCF.
Minutes before the walk began, Hanson was welcomed by a wave of screams as they walked out of the front doors of the bookstore.
"In many places, if kids don't have shoes, they can't go to school," Stephanie Cohen said. "With shoes, people are able to walk further and get educated."
Cohen is the president of the TOMS Shoes UCF campus club and is working toward a master's degree in social work.
"It's amazing to see so many people come out for the cause," she said.
With a megaphone in hand, Taylor Hanson thanked participants and fans for coming out for the cause and pledging their walk to people in need. He asked everyone to take off their shoes and hold them in the air. With one collective voice, Hanson and all 430 participants shouted, "Let's walk," and the one-mile barefoot walk began.
Hanson and the participants walked through the John T. Washington Center and into the Student Union where they shouted, "I'm taking the walk," to people inside. The walk continued outside of the Student Union and through Memory Mall to the UCF Arena. Taylor
Hanson, who led the walk, stopped everyone for a brief moment in front of the UCF Arena to let those behind catch up.
"We feel this walk is about setting the bar and we have the potential to make the greatest impact," Hanson said. "This walk is about the ability to reach out and be your own influencer."
The walk continued from the UCF Arena around Garage D and back through the Student Union. Participants encouraged people inside of the union to go barefoot and finish the walk with them. The walk ended back in front of the bookstore where everyone shouted together, "I took the walk."
"This is amazing. What a great group of people out here," Isaac Hanson said. "It's a lot harder to walk barefoot one mile than it is to just donate one, two or three dollars."
The event continued inside of the bookstore where Hanson gave an exclusive acoustic performance of the songs "Great Divide" and "Been There Before" for those who participated. The band also did a book signing after the performance.
Cohen was thrilled and moved by how many people came out for the barefoot walk.
"This is so cool," she said. "After all the work and planning, I just have chills. I think this is a really important cause."