The first two days of the 2016 Road For Hope are complete, and the group already has dozens of stories to share. Student-leader Maggie Lynch '17 called with an update after Abbot Matthew concluded Mass on Sunday evening for the 44 students at their overnight accommodations in Standish, Maine. Spirits are high, and laughs are numerous. The group has already trekked more than 30 miles, and look forward to the days ahead.
The group rode to Lewiston, Maine and the friendly confines of the Basilica of SS Peter and Paul on Friday afternoon, settling in for an evening of fellowship and anticipation for the eight day journey back to campus.
After gathering for a brief prayer on the steps of the Basilica Saturday morning, two members of the local Knights of Columbus chapter led the walkers on their first steps of this eighteenth-annual pilgrimage.
A 17.5 mile itinerary brought the group to Gray, Maine on Saturday evening where five Road For Hope alumni surprised the group with a pasta dinner. Vanessa Burton, Kerrianne Marino, Josh Post, Jennifer Peterson and Maria Turner, all 2016 graduates, served up dinner and inspiration as day one came to a close.
Sunday "was a day full of heat, blisters and hills, but we are all still managing to put a smile on and keep chugging along," says Joey Smith '18 who hails from nearby Gorham. "Being in Maine and walking roads that I am so used to driving really puts this all in perspective." (Coincidentally, his family stopped by to greet the walkers with the family dog).
Numerous people stopped to learn more about the purpose – and the people – behind the Road For Hope throughout the day, while many others offered honks and waves of encouragement. One Saint Anselm alumna who drove past the group, but had never participated in the walk, even pulled over to greet everyone and share some inspirational words before continuing on her way.
Other guests included Father John Fortin, who brought greetings and prayers from the monastery, the Ireland family, in support of their daughter and first-time walker Caroline '19, and the Roy Family, longtime supporters of the Road For Hope who provided dinner to the group on Sunday night.
With a hot week on the horizon, the walkers look forward to continued visits from friends and family, moments of inspiration brought by the charities they are supporting, and many more stories from the road!