Troy University’s Alpha Tau Omega fraternity began its annual “Walk Hard” event on the Troy Campus quad Friday morning, March 5.
Walk Hard is a six-day excursion where ATO brothers walk approximately 128.3 miles from TROY’s campus to Panama City Beach, Florida. The mileage is spread differently between each day with some days lasting 28 miles, and some being as low as 16 miles.
Troy University student and ATO member Josh Marvin is the director of this year’s event.
“This year, we have 36 brothers participating as walkers,” Marvin said. “We also have 14 brothers participating as a support staff who will come alongside the walkers and help medically and with the execution of the walk.
According to ATO’s Walk Hard website, the event is to support Jeep Sullivan’s Outdoor Adventures, a charitable organization that “gives veterans an avenue of release and expression through hunting excursions, fishing trips, and more.”
“ATO’s seven-year relationship with Jeep has been an important part of our chapter’s culture,” Marvin said. “We have been able to see the faces of the ones we raise funds for throughout the year, and, because of that, we find fuel to walk and committedly fundraise.”
Walk Hard is not only challenging physically but can be mentally draining for the brothers as well.
“The most challenging part of Walk Hard is the mental aspect of combatting pain and monotony throughout the journey,” Marvin said. “Being committed to each new day, which feels like starting from square one, is a demoralizing realization.”
Christian Long is a junior biomedical science major from Hazel Green, Alabama, and will be participating in Walk Hard for the first time since joining ATO last semester.
“Walk Hard, from what I’ve been told at least, is very tough mentally,” Long said. “We walk an average of about 20 miles a day, and it’s very mentally draining.
The most rewarding aspect of the journey for Long is to be able to give back to those who gave so much for us.
“I can give back to those who need it, as well as push me to rely on my brothers during struggles,” Long said.
Marvin has a similar outlook on spending the time bonding with his fraternity.
“Throughout our lives, the only people who will ever be able to fully relate and understand the depth of walking 128.3 miles will be our brothers,” Marvin concluded. “This adds such value to our relationships in the fraternity.
“When we return to TROY after the walk, we see the fruit of long, roadside conversations and experiencing hardship with one another. It strengthens our bonds as brothers in a way few can relate to.”
According to its website, ATO walks every spring break “so that the Gospel can continue to live through Jeep’s ministry in order that our veterans may know and feel the love of Jesus Christ.”
Last year, ATO raised over $62,000 for veterans.
Those interested in donating to their cause can go to ATO’s Walk Hard website.