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.

Why I Walk: Emily Pierce '19

Whenever someone mentions the words “Road For Hope,” a quote from Dr. Seuss resounds in the back of my mind. The quote states, “Sometimes you will never know the value of something, until it becomes a memory.” Although it is impossible to quite comprehend the magnitude of the Road For Hope experience while walking your 100th mile in the hot August sun, it is an experience that never leaves you. You can, however, understand one thing for certain: that this walk and its mission are a part of something much larger than yourself.

Emily Pierce '19

I walk on the margins of the road for those in the margins of our society. Those whose own sense of hope is quite literally dependent on the road we walk because the nine charities we support are invaluable resources to them.

I walk for the sense of awe that I can participate in service for the nine charities I have never been to, but still know they are an essential part in the life of someone I will never meet. In this sense, Road For Hope embodies the meaning of service in its purest form. Service at its core is doing good for others and expecting nothing in return. It is so easy to let the enticement of praise dictate our desire to serve, but on Road For Hope there is simply no way for pride to seep into our intentions (especially when no one has showered for days on end).

I walk because between the blisters and sweat, the laughter and the tears, the formation of friendships and memories, there is a transformation that occurs. Suddenly, you realize that values like community, optimism and service to others will outlast even the peskiest of blisters.

I walk because sometimes you may not know where the road might lead quite yet, but you can feel that you need to be on it.

Why I Walk: Kayla Patten '17

When I walked Road For Hope for the first time, in 2014, one of the leaders shared an African Proverb with the group. It read, “if you want to walk fast, walk alone, if you want to walk far, walk together.” It wasn’t until all forty-four of us ran onto the front lawn of Saint Anselm, on day eight, that I truly understood what the quotation meant.

Kayla Patten '17Initially, I applied for Road For Hope on a whim, and it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made while attending Saint Anselm College. As an incoming sophomore, at the time, I didn’t know the majority of people walking and I certainly didn’t have a full understanding of what the journey is all about.

Completing 130 miles of “the road” is not an easy accomplishment and is more than simply putting one foot in front of the other; it means being a motivator for someone, having a conversation about God, making a new friend, changing your perspective, seeing beauty in all parts of nature (even on the hot and humid days), saying grace before meals, and finding a new, personal connection with the charities Road For Hope advocates for.

Road For Hope is a 130 mile journey that doesn’t end when on the eighth day when we arrive on campus, for me, it was only the beginning; the beginning of being a louder voice to speak up for those who cannot. I choose to commit to Road For Hope for those who need hope, strength, and fellowship the most. On Saturday, August 20, 2016, forty-five determined students will begin their journey from Lewiston, Maine back to Saint Anselm.

I am proud to be part of a group that not only raises awareness for the marginalized in Maine and New Hampshire, but also a group that motivates others to do their best and to hope in more. As this will be my third and final Road For Hope journey I cannot wait to walk far, by walking together, in order to make a difference.

Why I Walk: Joey Smith '18

It took me 130 miles, seven different floors to sleep on, a gazillion gummies/cookies/trail mix packs, 40 new faces, a sweet pair of New Balance 993 walking shoes and nine charities to really know why I do this. I believe that ‘the road’ has its own unique impact on each individual person that walks it.

Joey Smith '18For me, it hit right at home. Being the proud Mainer that I am, I get to see these charities doing work that no 130 mile walk could match. For example, the Good Shepherd Food Bank of Maine has a program I have witnessed in action that is called the Backpack Program. This program “provides children who are suffering the effects of chronic hunger with nutritious, easy-to-prepare food to eat during weekends and school vacations when those crucial school meals are unavailable” (gsfb.org).

I have also been able to witness Community Concepts’ efforts of building, furnishing and housing low-income Mainers that have no where else to turn.  The awareness alone is worth every effort of fundraising, to the last steps up St. Anselm Drive. The ability to actually see the work being done in my home state is indescribably rewarding and an experience I wish everyone could have.

Years ago, Fr. Seamus Griesbach had a desire to just do the walk with the remaining days of his summer. Last year our group was fortunate enough to meet the legend himself and of course he brought us the wisdom that “There is something inherently hopeful about a pilgrimage." Not until after the walk did I know the truth to his words. Now, we will be 50 walkers strong that are making and leaving footprints every step we take and with every step, we gain hope.

Why do I walk? I walk to know the difference, to advocate for small charities and of course, to have a heck of a good time my last week of summer. I walk to walk side by side with my fellow Anselmians, including the amazing ones who also posted here, who will soon walk all over the world, being advocates for things that matter to us.

The hope does not die after this one week is over; rather it grows inside every person that ventures the road. It’s an addiction and a blessing all in one. Our home at Saint Anselm College nurtures our desires to spread hope in a number of ways and for that, I am extremely grateful.

Buen camino!

Why I Walk: Beth Gabert '17

My name is Beth Gabert and I am majoring in Social Work with a minor is Sociology. This will be my second and final Road for Hope and I can’t think of a better way to start my senior year at Saint Anselm.

Beth Gabert '17I transferred to Saint Anselm my sophomore year and participating in Road for Hope after my first year at a new school helped me grow in more ways than I thought it would. Not only did I gain friends from the experience but I learned valuable lessons which I will take with me this year as a walk along the road and in the years to come as I walk through the rest of my life.

The most important lesson I learned while participating in Road for Hope last year is that the walk is not about the destination it’s about the journey.

When I decided to participate last year my reasoning was that I wanted to conquer it. I wanted to complete all 130 miles and to finish the walk just to finish it. I was so dead set on walking every mile, but ironically enough that didn’t happen.

About halfway through our eight day journey my feet became injured enough that I had to sit out for the rest of the walk. Because I was so focused on finishing, this was devastating. I felt like everything I had come to do was being ruined by something as silly as a foot injury.

Having to sit out was probably the best thing that happened to me that week. Being injured showed me that Road for Hope isn’t about walking 130 miles to just complete it. Road for hope is a journey and a pilgrimage. It is a journey we take together as individuals and as a team to find ourselves spiritually, to grow in community with one another, to be connected to something greater than ourselves, and to bring awareness to nine deserving charities.

This year I am simply walking for the journey. I’m walking to see where the road takes me.

My main focus will be on the charities and on the experience of it all. Truly engaging in Road for Hope is so much more important than finishing it. Learning this simple lesson “it’s about the journey not the destination” has brought so much clarity to my life.

I know that as I continue on my journey beyond Saint Anselm I will always remember this lesson: you don’t always have to walk to get somewhere sometimes you have to walk to find out where you’re going.

Why I Walk: Margaret Harrington '17

I walk for Marissa, for Lorena, and Xavian. I walk for Bridget and Kamron, for Angel and Dasner, Marianna, Ibraham, and Muhammad. And I walk for all the rest of the Manchester kids being served by Kid's Cafè, just one of the ten charities that Road for Hope raises money for. I walk so that the Salvation Army can continue to give a free Halloween costume to every kid, and so that once the weather gets cold, each child can go on a $100 shopping spree at JC Penny to get the new warm clothes they need.

Margaret Harrington '17I walk for chicken nuggets and tater tots, pizza parties, and ice cream sundaes. I walk for healthy dinners for kids who could go hungry otherwise. And I walk for all the children at Kid's Cafe who have given my life direction. I walk for the smiles and the hugs once I walk through the door. For the stories and the laughter and the "Can I braid your hair?" I walk for the kids who have decorated my dorm walls with paintings and drawings, and who have decorated my arms with bracelet after bracelet.

I walk because during these past three years of volunteering at Kid's Café, I have gained understanding and tolerance for all. I have become less judgmental and more willing to help those in need. I have noticed that all you need to give to the kids at Kid's Café is a couple hours of your time, and they will reciprocate with all the love they can give.

It wasn't until I began volunteering at Kid's Café during September of my freshman year that I became positive I wanted to become a teacher. And then I became positive that I wanted to teach in the inner city, so that I can continue to be inspired by the amazing children I meet, as I work to bring justice to them through education, which I believe to be the key to social mobility.

And then I became positive that I wanted to do a year of service in inner city schools after graduation. By spending two evenings a week with 7-12 year olds for three years now I have become so certain of the kind of person that I want and need to be. I have found my purpose in these children, and all of the employees and volunteers at the Salvation Army that make Kid's Café happen.

I walk because Kid's Café has added an immense amount of meaning to my life, and it is the least I can do to thank everyone for the impact they've made.

Why I Walk: Katie Gemmell '17

My name is Katie Gemmell and I am a senior Sociology and Criminal Justice major. I play rugby, am involved in the Multicultural Center, Meelia Center, and Campus Ministry. This will be my third and final Road for Hope, a total of 390 miles walked.

Katie Gemmell '17I think I left part of my heart along the road from Lewiston, Maine to Manchester. When I was in high school, I would see pictures of students walking Road for Hope and I would think to myself, “if I go here, I’m definitely doing this.”

My first year, I barely made the walk. I had so many blisters, was out of shape, and I definitely had no idea why I was doing this. I learned from the people why they walked. Each person’s reason for walking is different.

On my walks, I found God and myself along the road. I learned that I love endurance, service to others, the outdoors and I love to laugh. Some people walk for sick family members, themselves, the nine charities, or for Saint Anselm College.

This year, I walk for the nine charities, my sister, and myself.

Each step of laughter, tears, and pain are for these three people. I grew up in a city where there was a lot of poverty and homelessness. I saw and experienced the injustice firsthand and this is the reason why I am majoring in Sociology. I want to work for a corporation to help find ways to prevent homelessness and poverty because it could have been me.

Everything I am is because of Road for Hope and Saint Anselm College. Road for Hope has changed me spiritually, mentally, physically into the person I am today. This is something I will carry with me past my last 130 miles and graduation in May.

I will not take each step for grated for my final Road for Hope for it will be what I will miss the most

Why I Walk: Erin Connolly '15

Since sophomore year I have been asked why I walk the Road for Hope and the answer, at first, always sounded the same, "I do it for the charities that we sponsor." Although this answer is very true, I never really felt I was doing justice to our cause with such a simple explanation. I think I truly understood how to answer the question "why do you walk" after my second year on the road.

A Road for Hope walker shares an embrace with a fellow participant

We had been singing songs all morning walking through Maine and at one of our water breaks a lady pulled into the parking lot just to get our attention, and to tell us her story. She said her mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness just a month prior and hadn't laughed or joked since, but when we walked by their home singing and cheering the mother began laughing and smiling for the first time since her diagnosis. This woman drove around town for more then a half hour trying to find us just to share with us this little sign of hope and to learn about our journey.

Walking the Road For Hope is exactly what it's title describes, we bring hope to others by getting the communities attention and sharing our mission. Throughout the years we have made great connections with our charities, the communities, and the different people along our route. Every year more and more people learn about our cause and always want to help out in some way. Whether it's allowing us to use their hose to fill up our water tanks or inviting us in for a freeze pop, there are so many generous people willing to help us and without them the Road for Hope would not be what it is.

Although the mother that we helped is not directly part of one of our ten charities we still brightened her day and got to share our mission with her daughter, who later donated to our cause. I now tell this story every time I'm asked why I walk. I walk to bring hope to our communities and the charities that support them, because only by working together can we really make a difference.

Why I Walk: Haley Mount '15

Hey everyone! My name is Haley Mount; I am a rising senior and this will be my third year making the journey from Lewiston, Maine to the Saint A’s hilltop. As a sophomore I decided to try Road For Hope after hearing about it during freshmen orientation. In all honesty I had no clue what I was getting myself into. All I knew was there would be a lot of walking for 9 great causes.

2013 Road for Hope participants arrive on campusAs my third and final walk approaches my understanding of Road For Hope has changed. For starters we no longer are walking for 9 great causes but for 10. Additionally though I now see Road For Hope as more then a walk. I see it as a journey, both physically and mentally.

I walk because I truly believe that every footstep makes a difference. From the first footstep to the last a change is occurring, a difference is being made. For the 10 charities not only are we raising money but awareness as well. Long after we are back on campus and going to class 30 some odd students will still remember the 10 charities we walked for and will be able to spread awareness about them. Even after we are back on campus the money we raised for these charities will continue to make a difference.

Individually I believe that every footstep makes a difference. It is pretty obvious that Road For Hope is a physically challenging walk. 130 miles in 8 days just isn’t something a human body is use to. A physical difference is apparent in walkers, just look at their feet! What I think a lot of people don’t see is the mental transformation that occurs in walkers.

From the first day to the last a walker goes on a journey. Through conversations with fellow walkers not only does one learn about others but they learn about themselves as well. In my days walking Road For Hope I have talked about my fears, my hopes, my strengths and my weaknesses. On Road For Hope not only did I explore the 130 miles between Lewiston, Maine and Saint Anselm College but I explored my beliefs and values as well.

When walking 130 miles many footsteps are taken and each is as important as the last. Each footstep carries with it new discoveries. When walking Road For Hope every footstep makes a difference.

Why I Walk: Julie LePore '15

My name is Julie LePore, I am a rising senior and this will be my third year participating in Road for Hope. Freshman year, I was looking for a chance to get more involved and try something new. As I went through my emails one day, one caught my eye with the line "Road for Hope: Walk 130 Miles for Local Charities." I decided to take a chance and try it and I'm so glad I did. It has been the most challenging yet rewarding experience I've had in my years at Saint Anselm and has impacted me more than I could have ever imagined.

The 2012 Road for Hope arrives back on campusThis program could not have a better name because Road for Hope is just that – a walk helping to spread hope to the charities and people we support and the communities we pass through. One of the most gratifying moments for me from last year's walk happened early in the week when we stopped for lunch.

A woman from the town we were passing through stopped to tell us about her mother who was ill and had been housebound for months. She told us how her mother saw us walking by her house and heard us singing and it made her the happiest she'd been since becoming sick.

Instances like this validate that this program is more than just making donations to charities but is also about raising awareness for the charities and spreading positivity along the way.

When I tell people about my plans to walk 130 miles at the end of the summer, they always want to know why? Why would 40 college students voluntarily spend eight days walking miles, subjecting their feet to blisters and going without beds, showers and the comforts of home?

Every walker has different reasons that draw them to Road for Hope and keep them motivated when they're facing another hill up ahead. It's hard to speak about the experience in a way that does it any justice, but I usually tell people about the children I've met at St. Charles Children's Home, one of the charities we support.

These children have dealt with abuse and lived through things that are unfathomable for most adults, yet they still smile and laugh as if they haven't dealt with hardship. I walk to help these children receive the resources they need and deserve, I walk for the volunteers who devote their lives to helping these charities carry out their missions, and I walk for the woman who is housebound and others like her who cannot walk miles themselves.

Even though Road for Hope is a physically and emotionally draining week, I welcome every blister and the feeling of exhaustion. It's validation that in a small way, we're helping those in our communities better their lives and in turn it's improved our own lives. I've learned to appreciate everything, from my supportive family to the food on the dinner table, because not everyone is fortunate enough to have these things.

This year will be bittersweet since it will be my final year walking, but I am so happy that Road for Hope has managed to reach out to so many organizations and people over the years. I'm looking forward to spending the last eight days of summer vacation with my fellow walkers, hitting the road and helping to make a difference!