Article: Walking a mile today will help build schools in Africa

By | April 25, 2009

When Ridgefielders Joanna Vill and Kerryn King participated in a pre-concert charity walk last April 25, their only goal was to get a little closer to their favorite rock band and charity organizers, Hanson.

While they did build a stronger connection to the band, the two friends walked away from the event, literally, with a sense that small efforts can make a big difference and it has inspired them to organize their own charity walk exactly a year after the first.

Ms. Vill and Ms. King, both 23, will be hosting a one-mile Take the Walk event through Ridgefield village this Saturday, April 25, at 11 a.m. to raise money for the Free the Children foundation. The money will go toward building a school in Africa.

Participation is free and a $1 donation will be made for every person who walks — courtesy of the band Hanson.

Hanson — best known for its rise to pop idol status with the song “Mmmbop” in the 1990’s — left the spotlight years ago but still record music. Ms. Vill admits that the band name can draw snickers or eye rolls from some due to the bubblegum pop image of the past but the group has a loyal fan base and they have made their charity work a part of every show.

“Before each of their concerts they have been hosting a one-mile barefoot walk with any fan that shows up a few hours before the show,” Ms. Vill said. “For each person who came to walk, the band would donate $1 in the walker’s name to one of five causes that the walker picked.”

Ms. Vill and Ms. King aren’t the only fans hosting these events. The band encourages all fans to organize their own versions of the Take the Walk events and promises their charity will donate $1 for each person who completes the walk.

Organizers choose from five charities, each benefiting areas of Africa devastated by AIDS, including building schools, building wells for clean water, providing shoes for children in need, helping fight AIDS through music, and AIDS patients having access to doctors through SMS text messaging.

“While all these actions are important, we chose education because it spoke the most to us,” Ms. King said. “Joanna is a teacher and I’m an assistant cheerleading coach at Ridgefield High School.”

Ms. Vill believes that education is a big factor in overall success of struggling communities, recovering from poverty and the AIDS epidemic.

“Education provides individuals with the power to make their own informed decisions and ultimately strengthen their communities,” Ms. Vill said.

Fliers are up for the April 25 event and about 25 people have already agreed to walk.

Walkers don’t need to sign-up beforehand and can just show up at the Ballard Park gazebo at 11 a.m. Signing a list provided at the conclusion of the walk will ensure that money goes toward building a school.

“For me, having 100 people would be awesome,” Ms. Vill said. “But realistically, we may have about 50 and that’s cool too.”

The walk will coincide with Downtown Ridgefield’s EarthFest so participants in the brief walk can enjoy the numerous offerings of the festival when it’s over.

Locals are invited to walk barefoot, to recognize those who suffer from severe poverty, but shoes are welcome, too.

“We hope a lot of people will participate so we can raise a lot of money,” Ms. King said. “But we also hope that at least one person will walk away wanting to do something more.”

To contact the organizers e-mail them at talkthewalkridgefield@yahoo.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it and to learn more visit Hanson’s Website at


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *