For Bradley Hansen, Chi Psi ΨΔ ’23, and his friend, Josh Harmon, walking long distances was a hobby that began on a spur-of-the-moment decision. The first time the duo walked a long distance, they did so “just because” – about 53 miles in 23 hours. They trekked from Boulder, where they attend school, to their homes in Castle Rock, CO.
“We have a passion for walking and going on adventures,” says Br. Hansen. “After that first one, we realized we could push ourselves a lot further than we thought.”
When the men saw video of George Floyd’s death, they got on the phone. They felt compelled to help. But they wanted to come up with a way to raise money and awareness that was more than “just posting a black box on Instagram.”
“We were seeing a lot of people from our generation getting involved and protesting,” says Hansen. “We are both very passionate about this cause, and wanted to have our own call to action and support it to a higher degree.”
So, Hansen and Harmon decided to do another lengthy walk, raising money for the NAACP chapter in Boulder. The NAACP, or National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, is a Civil Rights organization dedicated to ensuring “a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race.” Hansen says they picked the NAACP because one of their professors with connections to the Boulder chapter heard about their idea and suggested it.
“Our professor is really involved with the NAACP and was able to connect us to them,” says Hansen. “She was excited about the idea, and the NAACP was super supportive. It’s more relevant to our community, too, being in Boulder.”
Hansen and Harmon decided another way to honor Floyd and racial injustice in the United States was to peg their fundraising walk at 84.6 miles – for the 8 minutes and 46 seconds Floyd was pinned to the ground. The walk took place over two days, including a 22-hour stretch on day one. After sleeping in a car that was placed at a pre-determined point for them, they got up and finished the final 17 hours.
“We had people resupplying us along the way,” Hansen says. “We had to re-fill our Camelbaks with water, for example. But we also had some people meet us with food. Besides five hours of sleeping, it was pretty much continuous walking. We finished at 10:45 p.m. the second night.”
Hansen, who is leading an eight-day backpacking trip just a few days after the fundraiser, says his legs are still barking at him, but that he wouldn’t change a thing.
“This cause is so much bigger than us,” says Hansen. “The goal was to raise $10,000 for the NAACP in Boulder and we’re almost at $11,000 now from 175 different donors. We’ve had such fantastic support.”
The men were hesitant to do any interviews at first because they didn’t want to divert any of the spotlight off the fundraiser and the cause they were walking for. However, they quickly realized that more media coverage meant reaching more people, which meant more awareness and more money raised.
“All the funds go straight to the NAACP,” says Hansen. “It’s crazy to see local and national news channels picking up our story. But this isn’t about us. It’s about supporting the cause we were walking for.”
Hansen also mentions the support he’s had from his Chi Psi community. Many of his Alpha Psi Delta Brothers even asked about where they could meet him to walk along the way. He hopes that this direct involvement with the NAACP will allow Psi Delta to be a part of that philanthropic community in the future.
“The Chi Psi community, especially up at Boulder, has been incredibly supportive of the fundraiser,” says Hansen. “I feel very fortunate. It’s the most supportive community you could ask for!”