COLUMBUS, Miss. – Indiana native Ben Poor is on a mission.
The 20-year-old set out June 26 to walk from his hometown of New Palestine, Ind., to New Orleans, raising money and awareness for Hurricane Katrina relief along the way.
Poor came up with the idea of "Walk the Walk" while on vacation in Europe with his family earlier this summer. While trekking around an Olympic stadium in Germany, Poor realized how much he enjoyed walking and what good shape he'd gotten in while exploring numerous countries in Europe.
"Why not do this for a cause?" Poor said he asked himself.
The journey of 800-plus miles would take more than 50 days to complete.
Poor, a junior at Ball State University, has traveled so far through southern Indiana, into Louisville, Ky.; Nashville, Tenn.; Vernon, Ala.; and Columbus, Miss.
So far, Poor has raised more $6,000 — three times his original goal of $2,000. He hopes to reach New Orleans in two weeks with $10,000 to donate to Emergency Communities, a nonprofit relief agency.
Emergency Communities, founded in the post-Katrina chaos, serves three hot meals daily; distributes donated food, clothing and baby supplies; offers phone and laundry services; and provides labor for rebuilding projects.
The executive director, Mark Weiner, said 70 percent of his agency runs on college-aged volunteers.
To help beat the heat, Poor wakes up around 4 a.m. and walks up to 20 miles a day. He passes the time by doing interviews on his cell phone, listening to Harry Potter books or country music on his iPod, photographing the scenery or just thinking.
"Hopefully, the donations from all this will help," Poor said in a www.cdispatch.com article.