As World AIDS Day 2008 approaches, I look back at my experiences as I, along with thousands of others, joined the band Hanson on their quest to “walk around the world” to raise awareness
of AIDS in Africa.
I have been a Hanson fan for over 11 years. Yes, that’s right I said Hanson, as in “MMMBOP” Hanson. I have heard all the questions possible as to why I am still a fan or do they still make music. Hanson not only still makes music, but also makes a difference in the world, one barefoot walker at a time.
Their past three tours have supported their fourth studio album, The Walk. Prior to each concert, Hanson invites fans and non-fans in the area of the show to partake in a one-mile barefoot walk to raise AIDS Awareness. Many children in Africa do not own a pair of shoes. Hanson asks fans to try to walk barefoot, to feel empathy of what the children go through each day.
I have thus far participated
in five walks and walked three walks barefoot. The mixture of the last walk’s freezing temperature and concrete walkway caused me to keep my sneakers on, but there were still hundreds of fans who took their shoes off and braved the frigid cold.
The first time I took the walk in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., I was more concerned with trying to walk next to one of my idols. I was so preoccupied with the idea that the band who’s music I have followed for over half my life, was within an arm’s distance.
With each walk, I became more aware of why I walked, not who I walked with. I loved the idea that I was part of a bigger group making a statement in whatever city the walk took place whether it was through the streets of Northampton, M.A. with cars stopping, asking what the commotion was about or around Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, M.A. passing restaurants with curious people asking themselves why hundreds of people just walked by the window, barefoot in below negative temperatures.
This past tour, “The Walk Around the World Tour”, named for the goal to have 24,904 miles walked, not only made a statement about walking barefoot, but also donated a dollar for each walk participant. The walker chose from a list of five items to decide where he or she wanted the dollar to count. For my first walk, I put the dollar towards a pair of shoes while the second I made my
dollar count towards access to a medical facility.
I walked to better a child’s life who was affected by AIDS in any way. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling of community I felt with hundreds of strangers.
A dollar seems so small of an amount, but with over three hundred walkers at some stops on the tour, a difference was made. It was amazing to see hundreds of fans show up to the concert hours beforehand to partake in the event.
I had a great sense of accomplishment after each walk that I made a difference, even if was a small one.