Article: Around valley, helping hands make a difference

By | October 27, 2008

Though not part of the national volunteer event, more than 200 people participated in a one-mile walk around the City of Poughkeepsie with the band Hanson, the Oklahoma group consisting of brothers Isaac, Taylor and Zac.

They were in Poughkeepsie Saturday for a show at The Chance.

The band does the walk barefoot to raise awareness of poverty and AIDS in Africa.

For each person who registered and participated in the walk, the band will give $1 to one of five African-related causes: Providing fresh water to those who don’t have it, medications for HIV-positive pregnant women to reduce the chance of passing the disease to an unborn child, access to follow-up consultations via text messaging between those women and their doctors, a school in Kenya and 500 pairs of shoes.

The inspiration to do something to help happened after the brothers toured Africa in 2006.

Isaac Hanson said he was astounded to see AIDS had taken most of the young adults, leaving children in the care of grandparents, if they were still alive.

“You see a lot of 13- and 14-year-olds being the heads of their households,” he said.

Besides raising money, the brothers hope the walks – so far they’ve done 97 of them, with two in Poughkeepsie – will prod people to do other things on their own.

“They need to know they can be a valuable part of a practical solution,” Hanson said.

Right before the walk started, so did the rain. Nonetheless, the brothers Hanson took off their shoes for the trek around the city starting at The Chance on Crannell Street and headed down North Hamilton Street.

Many of the other walkers also went barefoot, dodging broken glass at times and puddles.

As the walk progressed, the band and crowd stopped in a parking lot on Cannon Street.

Taylor Hanson, with bullhorn in hand, told the participants they were awesome for walking in the cold and rain.

“The hard stuff, the simple stuff, really does make a difference,” he said.

The 20-minute journey ended back the concert venue where Taylor Hanson led the walkers in a chant: “I took the walk! I took the walk!”

He said, “The best power you have is to show up and lead by example.”

Jessica Lippert, 25, of Rochester made the trip to see the band she has loved since she was 12.

And to do the walk – her 13th.

“What kind of band does this” she said, “to walk around with their crazy fans?”

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