Toward the end of the Summer of 2021, two brothers set off on an epic journey with a goal of seeing the USA while helping others.
Louis and Aiden Ardine both graduated from Rutgers University in their home state of New Jersey. Now in their late 20s, the brothers work in the restaurant industry, which was hit harder than most by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hoping to contribute financially to charities that help restaurants get by during difficult times, Louis and Aiden asked people to donate to their own self-made walk-a-thon. They hoped to raise $30,000, but when all was said and done, they raised more than twice that amount: $70,000!
Their journey began on the boardwalk in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and ended when they reached the Pacific Ocean a mere 3,200 miles later. They covered about 20 miles each day, ranging over 11 states. Along the way, they encountered stunning scenery, helpful strangers, and curious wildlife — all of which they documented on Instagram.
“There’s a lot of beauty in this country,” Aiden said.
He wasn’t just talking about America’s natural majesty; the people they met were also beautiful. As they walked along a roadside in 100-degree heat in Nebraska, a stranger pulled over to hand them each a cold Gatorade. They were invited to eat dinner with families, like the couple in Iowa who treated them to a meal of homemade macaroni and cheese and steak.
“Amazing journey,” Louis said. “I’ve always looked for the best in people. We found it.”
In the Wasatch Mountains of Utah, they spooked a black bear but walked away from the encounter with nothing more than a cool story to tell. Through it all, they felt joy and gratitude along with exhaustion, plus the satisfaction of knowing they were doing something to benefit others.
In their journey across the country, they reached elevations of 12,000 feet and experienced extreme heat and cold, but the donations kept coming in, so they trekked on! When they reached the shores of San Francisco, California, their parents and supporters were waiting for them.
“This would not have been possible without the help of a huge community of people, whether people were donating or helping us navigate our way across the United States,” Aiden explained. “This was definitely an adventure founded in a very hopeful notion about America, and it confirmed our suspicion that people are inherently good and want to help their neighbors.”
In the end, Aiden and Louis donated $70,000 to split between nonprofits that help food workers: the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation and the COCO Fund. Aiden hopes to write a book about their amazing coast-to-coast journey. We’d definitely read it!
Share this story to thank Louis and Aiden for sharing their adventure with us.
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