Article: Pop band takes to the streets to raise awareness of issues plaguing Africa

By | October 15, 2008

Taylor Hanson can’t say he knows what it’s like to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, but the musician does know what it’s like to walk a mile without shoes.

“(Walking barefoot) helps remind people that the little things are kind of hard,” said Hanson, 25, who along with brothers Zac, 22, and Isaac, 27, comprise the pop band Hanson. The group, which gained fame in 1997 with the hit song “MmmBop,” and played a concert last night at the Carnegie Music Hall of Homestead.

Before the concert, the Hansons walked barefoot with about 200 fans through Homestead to raise money and awareness for AIDS and other issues affecting the poor in Africa. About two-thirds of the world’s AIDS population resides in Africa, according to a joint report from the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

The walk is something the Hansons have done before every concert since last September. Their concert last night drew about 1,000 people.

“We’re all looking for the big things, but we don’t want to do the small things,” Taylor said. “The walk is the beginning — it’s not the conclusion.”

Fans count toward the band’s goal of walking 24,902 miles — the circumference of the earth. The band contributes $1 for each mile walked. The band and its fans have walked 6,951 miles as of yesterday.

The money raised goes toward access to medical care, medical treatment, shoes, clean water and education.

Andi Roth, 23, of Maryland has followed the band to nine cities during the past year. The money raised thus far isn’t much, but walking is an easy way to make a difference, she said.

“The walk is about taking action,” she said. “This is something anyone can do.”

For Allison Freeman, 17, of Woodstown, N.J., and Ashley Lundsten, 23, of Bowie, Md., the walk is something they do to make a change.

“And it’s where we meet friends,” Freeman said.

The band plans to release a book titled “Take The Walk” in November that will chronicle its fight against poverty and AIDS in Africa.

“One person alone can’t walk around the world, but if you get enough steps, you can,” Isaac said. “Our governments can help, but ultimately it’s going to be about individuals.”

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