Why I Walk: Ashley Cryer '19

Road for Hope is unique in the sense that it invites you to set aside your daily routine and embrace the simplicity of putting two feet in front of the other. This will be my second year walking and I am smiling ear to ear just thinking about it. From the outside looking in, if someone is crazy enough to walk 130 miles more than once it must be special. And it is. Road for Hope highlights the importance of communication, it encourages you to be selfless, and it emphasizes the power a group of passionate individuals who want to make a difference can have.

Ashley CryerGhandi was right, the best way to find yourself is through the service of others. I walk for the 9 charities who need our advocacy and support. As much as the charities may need us, I want them to know how much I need them. For each charity I walked for, I gained something valuable.

Thank you Birthline/Catholic Charities. You taught me how rewarding stepping out of my comfort zone is. I had amazing conversations with people on the road who I had never even met before. I gained new perspectives and I was reassured that Road for Hope was a place where I could speak without judgement.

Thank you Community Concepts. My blisters would come despite how hard I tried to prevent them. Rather than wasting energy to try and control the uncontrollable, you taught me to focus my energy on the positive things around me, external rather than internal, and for that I thank you.

Thank you Good Shepard Food Bank. Food is food no matter where it is consumed. Dirt parking lots work just as well as closed in facilities. I am thankful for the food on my plate, for it is a right, not a privilege.

Thank you York County Shelter Program. Being the Mainer that I am, walking so close to home made me appreciate all my life has given me. On Road for Hope, I was in my most raw state. I want to thank you because you helped me to realize a person is not a person for the things they have, but rather for the things they are and what they do.

Thank you St. Charles Children’s Home. The weight of the pack on my back caught up with me the day I walked for you. I started questioning the items I packed and if I could have left them at home because it was weighing me down. Life can have this same effect, and I realized that there are some things I must take off my shoulders and put away.

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Thank you Rochester Recreation Arena and Youth Services. I have gained a deeper appreciation for the little things: a yummy snack, a cool breeze, or the smell of trees. Stretching is good for the soul and a good conversation has the power to detract from the pain you feel.

Thank you Candia Moore School Drug and Awareness Program. I came to a realization on the day that I walked for you. Saint Anselm College was going to be my home for the next 3 years because the people who go here are special, they are kind, and they lift me up and encourage me to be the best version of myself.

Thank you Kid’s Café. A 30-minute drive makes for a very long walk. At this point in the week we were so close to finishing, but still so far. But distance means so little; it’s everything in between. As much as I wished at this point to be able to lay in my bed and never walk again, I am lucky enough to have two feet that carry me.

Thank you UpReach Therapeutic Riding Center. Walking 130 miles from Lewiston to Manchester is very different from walking to the fridge from bed. Home gained a new meaning when I stepped foot onto campus that final day in August. My heart was full not because I walked 130 miles, but because we did.

I truly look forward to discovering what gifts these 9 charities have in store for me when I walk again this year. Road for Hope, I love you.

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