STORY BY MORGAN GSTALTER
Hopefully, Daniel Luke Hammer and his friends invested in some sturdy and comfortable shoes for their long journey on April 4.
Hammer, a sophomore business management/international business double major, organized friends and several of his Alpha Tau Omega fraternity brothers to walk from Drake University in Des Moines to Iowa State University (ISU) in Ames.
Five out of the original 16 participants made it to ISU’s Jack Trice Stadium between 12 and 12.5 hours after leaving from Drake’s Old Main building at 5:30 a.m.
This lengthy endeavor stems, not from a new fitness craze, but as a fundraising event.
Walk For The Horn hopes to raise $1,200 for unaccompanied minors in the Mai Ayni Eritrean refugee camp in Ethiopia.
The donations will help fund a library that is currently being built in the camp.
The group walked the 34 miles to Ames, taking many water and rest breaks. A driver went back and forth along route checkpoints to ensure everyone’s safety and brought back students that could not longer participate.
Sophomore graphic design/magazines double major Michael Lopez, who is Hammer’s roommate, admitted to originally participating because he wanted to prove him wrong but ended up enjoying the experience.
“I was originally invested because I designed the T-shirts,” Lopez said. “That’s how I got involved but I walked because it was all for a good cause and I wanted to go all the way with this.”
Lopez wore the popular workout tool called a FitBit that calculated his physical movement that day. He burned over 5,000 calories and walked 77,642 steps.
Hammer has participated in a Walk For The Horn event before, getting inspiration for the trek to Iowa State.
“My previous Walk For The Horn event was from Lee’s Summit, Missouri to Olathe, Kansas and spanned 28 miles on foot,” Hammer said. “I nearly died but over $1,500 was raised.”
The United Nations Refugee Agency has identified the eastern region known as the “African horn” to be the heart of one of the largest humanitarian crises currently.
Estimates suggest that between 1,300-1,700 displaced people, most often from Somalia, cross the border into Ethiopia daily.
Years of drought and violent conflict have left millions on the horn without homes. Refugees walk miles to camps set up by humanitarian aid organizations. In the African climate, they often arrive dehydrated and malnourished.
Children often get separated from their mothers during journeys to refugee camps, such as Mai Ayni Eritrean in Ethiopia, leaving aid workers with a overflow of unaccompanied minors in need of an education.
Walk For The Horn’s aim is for college students and members of the Des Moines community to identify with displaced persons who make similar walks like these to seek refuge.
“People participating in the walk pay $20 for entry and a T-shirt,” Hammer said. “The rest (of the money) is from donations. Every little bit helps.”
Donations can be made at http://www.gofundme.com/walkforthehorn.