ATO’s raise more than $125,000 in support of wounded veterans

Published 7:08 pm Friday, March 31, 2023

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Less-than-ideal hiking conditions were dished out to the 36 brothers of Alpha Tau Omega as they began Walk Hard 2023 from the Quad on the Troy Campus.

They would not let cold, wet weather deter them on their ‘march to the sea,’ nor keep the brothers from raising $125,500 for an area Christian mission.

Walk Hard, begun by four ATO brothers in 2009, has become the annual philanthropy fundraiser for TROY’s chapter and raises funds for wounded veterans through area mission Jeep Sullivan’s Wounded Warrior Outdoor Adventures, based in Bonifay, FL. The brothers hike 128.3 from the Quad to Panama City Beach’s Pier Park over six days of their spring break. Along the way, they traverse the cities of Troy, Enterprise, Hartford, Bonifay, Vernon, Ebro and PCB in Florida.

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“This is not ‘walk easy,’” said ATO alumnus Gus McKenzie, who himself served as Walk Hard director in 2019.

Now an admissions counselor for TROY, McKenzie said the fraternity members would endure a lot of pain and suffering along the way, but that it was all worth it for a good cause.

“It’s called ‘Walk Hard’ for a reason. It is a real test of their physical endurance, but even that is a very small price in comparison to what our veterans have done for us. To be able to help those who have sacrificed so much is truly an honor,” he said.

The Kappa Beta Chapter explains their motivation for Walk Hard on its website: “In the United States, statistics cite that 22 veterans die each day by suicide alone. Jeep Sullivan, our initiated brother, gives veterans an avenue of release and expression through hunting excursions, fishing trips, and more. Many who Jeep has connected with are healed exponentially through his love, friendship, and his grace to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As a brotherhood based on Christian teachings, we see the Gospel as healing that can happen in any soul — veteran, or not. We walk 128.3 miles every Spring Break so that the Gospel can continue to live through Jeep’s ministry in order that our veterans may know and feel the love of Jesus Christ.”

Including this year’s grand total, the fraternity has raised more than $650,000, nearly doubling the funds raised in 2019. In addition to individuals supporting the effort, several corporate sponsors have helped to bolster the gift to Jeep Sullivan.