TROY – Troy University’s chapter of Alpha Tau Omega will be featured in a segment of the Travel Channel’s documentary “Spring Break 24/7.”
The program highlights the spring break travels of college students, who video document their break preparations and exploits. For more than a dozen brothers of ATO, this year’s break will be about raising funds for Special Olympics in Alabama and Florida, in addition to the original charity.
Walk Hard 2013 will begin on the Quad on March 8, and finish six days later and 140 miles to the south at Panama City Beach’s Pier Park. The fraternity is soliciting corporate and individual donors for the philanthropy. The effort began in 2010 when students Kyle Crabtree and Austin Bivins saw a man dressed as Superman walking down U.S. Highway 231 carrying an American flag. Curiosity sparked, they set out to organize a hike from Troy to the beach and began recruiting more participants. When the offer came to a mutual friend, they learned that despite the friend’s physical fitness he couldn’t participate due to having Type 1 diabetes. That set the stage for the group to raise money for Camp Seale Harris, a summer camp for children with diabetes that takes place at the facilities of Camp ASCCA, and exposed the fraternity to the special needs children.
“The reason I am walking is because I feel like this is the perfect opportunity to leave a footprint on something that is far bigger than one's self,” said senior social science education major Ethan Carroll, 22 of Mellow Valley. “We, as a group and as a fraternity, feel it is important to bring awareness to the organizations we are representing – we want to help out and this is our way of helping."
Carroll and 10 others will don backpacks on the journey that will take them down U.S. Highway 231 from Troy and into Florida and then along secondary roads to Florida Highway 79 into Panama City Beach. Other brothers will form a support crew to assist the hikers along the way.
It’s far from the stereotypical spring break of non-stop partying, but well in line with the fraternity that nationwide bans alcohol use at official functions.
“I feel doing this event for Special Olympics sends a positive message throughout our communities that fraternities are not what they appear to be in the movies and on TV. I am walking to positively impact the lives of young children and to make a difference in their lives,” said 22-year old senior criminal justice major John Duncan, of Sarasota, Fla.
Tyler Deal, 20, a sophomore business student from Ariton, amplified Duncan’s thoughts: “I’m walking because I do not believe in the stereotypical college spring break. I think being able to spend my spring break in a more meaningful way helping others is a much better use of my time.”
That, and a theme of “servant leadership,” are sentiments echoed by other members of the Walk Hard 2013 team, who also include:
• Rad Bolt, 19, a sophomore music education major from Panama City, Fla.;
• Nelson Burton, 18, a freshman exercise science major from Montgomery;
• Reese Claybrook, 21, a junior exercise science major from New Site;
• Jesse Gonzalez, 20, a sophomore political science major, ROTC cadet and Alabama National Guardsman from Huntsville;
• Joe Mitchell, 24, a senior political science major from Nashville, Tenn.;
• Miller Morrison, 19, a freshman sport and fitness management major from Montgomery;
• Mick Norris, 19, a freshman exercise science major from Montgomery;
• Will Spivey, 19, a sophomore athletic training major from Montgomery;
The brothers plan a short send-off service from the Quad on the Troy Campus at 9 a.m. March 8. To become a sponsor or make a donation to the cause, contact Austin Moser at 334-808-6401.
“I believe that our purpose in life is to serve others,” Gonzalez said. “If we can make a difference by walking a couple of miles: I’m in.”