TROY fraternity walks 128.3 miles, raises $105K for wounded veterans


TROY, Ala. (TROJANVISION) — Would you walk 128.3 miles? What if it was for a good cause?

The men of TROY’s Alpha Tau Omega (ATO) chapter do just that with its annual philanthropy event Walk Hard. 

“It’s a six day event where we walk 128.3 miles from Troy University, to Panama City Beach, raising money for Jeep Sullivan’s Outdoor Adventures,” said Nick Marshall, ATO’s Walk Hard Director for 2024.

Jeep Sullivan’s Outdoor Adventures is a Christian-focused project that takes wounded veterans on hunting and fishing trips at no cost to the veterans.

“When these veterans come back from their service, they’re not always in the best place,” Marshall explained. “He’s a really good friend of them, takes them on these missions, and brings them to the gospel, and he’s just, he’s always there for them in a time of need.”

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Marshall says Walk Hard’s mission is close to the hearts of many ATO members.

“It’s something that hits home for a lot of the guys in ATO,” Marshall told TrojanVision. “Veterans are not always appreciated the way they should be, whenever they come back home, they really need to know people out there care about them, we love them, we’re here for them.”

Although there may be easier ways to get to the beach, Walk Hard participants say there is no way that is more meaningful.

“You know you’re on the right road when others are turning around when it gets hard.”

Nick Marshall, 2024 ATO Walk Hard Director

Some Walk Hard participants, or walkers, say the journey brings them closer together and strengthens their brotherhood.

“Walk Hard is one of the most life changing and impactful events that I have ever had the honor of being a part of,” said Theo Thoenes, a junior risk management and insurance major from Decatur, Alabama. “In choosing to spend our Spring Break on Walk Hard and endure significant mental and physical challenges, we are able to bond with each other, form memories that last a lifetime and undergo immense personal growth.”

Thoenes, who has participated for three years in a row, said he has realistic expectations for the journey, and because of this he had a positive mental state and was able to help support the younger walkers.

“There were many upperclassmen who motivated and encouraged me when I walked as a freshman, and I did my best to follow their example this year,” Thoenes explained.

While the walkers have a very difficult task, the support team is there to help them through their journey.

“The responsibility of the support team is pretty much to support the walkers in any way throughout the walk, whether it’s giving them food and water, stretching them out or tending to their blisters,” said Joey Trahan, a senior risk management/insurance major from Monroeville, Alabama. 

Trahan said he remembers how humbling it was to participate as a walker, and because of the support system the support team provided to him when he walked, he decided to be a member of the support team to help his fraternity brothers.

Although walking 128.3 miles is no easy task, Marshall says the faces of the veterans who participate in Jeep Sullivan’s wounded warrior project make it all worth it.

The men left the Friday morning before Spring Break, and made it to the beach the following Wednesday.

This year, AOT raised $105,000 for Jeep Sullivan’s Outdoor Adventures.