The Simple Act of Walking

Thursday was "heartbreak hill" day on Road For Hope, as the group made their way from Rochester to Northwood, New Hampshire, approaching the 100-miles walked mark by the end of the day. The hill has developed a bit of a legacy among past participants, standing out among the many challenging moments in the journey that is now just two days (and approximately 30 miles) from completion.

Road For Hope 2017So it comes as no surprise that in the midst of a 16-mile day, many decided not to walk the hill, but rather, to run it. A stop at Dunkin' Donuts for a few treats (and caffeine) was a welcome reward.

We caught up with several walkers in the evening, after they had settled in at St. Joseph's Church, resting up for today's trek of 14 miles to the town of Candia, on the outskirts of Manchester. After six days on the road, a common theme emerged from first-time, and repeat walkers: an appreciation for the simplicity of this pilgrimage, and gratitude for those sharing in the journey.

"I really didn't have expectations coming into this experience," says Molly Benson '19, a first-time walker. "Every day I'm just shocked by the abilities of myself and others…abilities that we didn't know we had. Physical endurance, even the ability to have hours-long conversations with fellow Anselmians that I didn't know before this experience. I have developed friendships so quickly," she continued.

In looking ahead to Saturday's return to campus, Benson paused, before saying: "the place you return to is different because of the experience you have while you're gone."

Maddie Dunn '18 is participating in her second Road For Hope, but is experiencing this year's journey with a different perspective. "I absolutely loved last year's walk, but there's a reason I'm back again," she said. "The motivation behind Road For Hope my first time was more about how much I could push myself. This year, I have focused on the charities, and the mission of this program."

The simplicity of Road For Hope has impacted Dunn as well. "Everything we have is on our back. We stay in simple accommodations. All that we receive, is due to the generosity of those around us," she said. "The simplicity of this journey makes us so much more appreciative of what we do have, and reminds us when we receive something, how grateful and fortunate we are."

Dunn emphasized the importance of conversation, and focusing on the most simple things during the day. "There were people I came in to this walk knowing, I was friends with them, but then I would have conversations with them while we were walking…If you don't keep talking, you'll think about your feet, or how many miles are left in the day. This experience just opens us up to one another," she said.

"Our conversations have become deeper as the week has gone on," says Molly Ridge '18, a first-time walker. "Everyone is very open, and there's so much trust among the group. This journey really feels like a group traveling as a family now. We're walking for each other, and for the charities along the way."

Jeremy Letteri '18 is a first-time walker, and summed up his experience simply. "It's quickly become our lives to just wake up, walk, and have a good time with it," he said. "I'm just focusing on putting one foot in front of the other."