Alums embark on kindness walk
Sam Rouleau '10 and Nick Tucker '11 began a charity, Making Strides, which will lead them on a walk across the country from Maine to California performing acts of kindness along the way.
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For the next seven months Nick Tucker ’11 and Sam Rouleau ’10 will continue their walking journey. While the common one month anniversary usually refers to a successful sprouting seduction, last week’s one month mark for College alumni Tucker and Rouleau commemorated the first of hundreds of days more to come on their coast-to-coast voyage across the United States.
The recent Colby grads are walking from the coast of Maine to the coast of California on a quest to meet the real people that live the everyday American struggle.
While other adventurists have walked across the country before, Tucker and Rouleau are walking with a special agenda. “We didn’t just want to walk,” Tucker explained. “We wanted to do something, and do something a little differently.”
Along their journey, Tucker and Rouleau plan to volunteer work for charities, complete service projects and help people that they meet on the road. Whether it is rebuilding houses, assisting elders with groceries or sharing a sub with someone hungry, the duo plan to make a difference.
“It started as an idea,” Tucker said. After reading The Walk by Richard Paul Evans, a story about a man who leaves everything to walk from Seattle to Key West, Tucker thought, “I would love to walk across the country.”
Tucker proposed the plan to long-time friend Rouleau who was searching for something “more meaningful.” Rouleau was working as a financial analyst at the time, but it just wasn’t enough. “When Nick told me about the idea, it was at the perfect time. I fell in love with it instantly.”
Aided by the advice and research of Colby Career Center Director Roger Woosley, the two decided to begin their adventure in August. On August 6 after many goodbyes and some small fundraising (including selling Rouleau’s car), Tucker and Rouleau set out from Short Sands Beach in York Beach, Maine, to Southern California, under their walking campaign, “Making Strides: Rediscovering The American Dream.”
Instead of understanding the American struggle through broad facts and figures, Tucker and Rouleau are looking for the “true face of America,” encountering America on a personal level instead of a statistical one.
Despite having spent only a month on their walk thus far, the duo has already been faced with the harsh realities of many in America. Tucker described his initial shock at the quick-to-forget mentality of most American medias. Volunteering to help reconstruct communities affected by tornados in the Northeast this past month, the duo realized that although it had disappeared in the news, the damage was still prevalent.
“A lot of people in America will forget because [a news story] isn’t in the headlines anymore,” Tucker said. “Medias forget, so we forget.”
Tucker and Rouleau, however, certainly are remembering, and they are receiving tons of support along the way. “We have sleeping bags and a tent. We are camp-capable. But we only had to do it once in the first month. The Colby alumni network has been our go-to, really—our savior,” Tucker said.
Each day, contacts from the Colby Alumni Network are delighted to house and feed the hungry men after their exhausting twenty some-odd mile walk. “We get two or three yesses at a time, and once, seven,” Tucker said.
Along the way they are meeting some fascinating people. “The type of person that stops to talk to you on the side of the road is a very specific type of person,” Rouleau said. While those individuals may be outside of the norm, Rouleau also realizes the absurdity of his own expedition. “You have to be a little crazy to do this. It’s much more enjoyable when you’re at the end of the day, done walking,” Rouleau said with a chuckle. “Sometimes in the late afternoon when we’d have two hours left we’d turn to each other and say, ‘How’d you talk me into this?’”
Although the two have been close friends for many years, they hardly talk during the ten or eleven hours that they walk a day.
“We’ve been together for quite a long time doing stupid things. It’s interesting because now we spend most of the time when we’re walking never talking,” Rouleau recounted. “It’s a very solitary experience. Every day seems like the longest day because it’s you and your thoughts for 10 straight hours. Yet all of the days have been meshed together, every day crawls by, you sit there trying to distort yourself, re-live things in your childhood.”
Thinking back on his experience at Colby, Rouleau reflected, “You really have to try to find something meaningful to do. It’s really just a positive community up there, but it’s easy to get funneled into doing something that deep down isn’t what you want. I mean, we were economics majors. I always though I’d be working a hedge fund but, for me, there’s no meaning in it.”
To these two making meaningful experiences is key. In this past month alone, Tucker and Rouleau have pushed and jumpstarted a car, bought sandwiches for the hungry, given out money to the homeless, prepared apartments for Middle East families relocated to America and helped communities in the midst of tornado reconstruction, on top of all of this they are forming individual connections with each fascinating person they encounter.
Despite the progress the two have made thus far, Tucker and Rouleau will continue to walk and lend helping hands all of the way across the country until they reach California.
The Making Strides team is currently in Pennsylvania. You can find out where they are now and track their progress on their website www.makestrides.net.