Ball State student walks 820 miles for Hurricane Katrina relief efforts

Topic: Miller College of Business

September 26, 2007

Ball State University student Ben Poor
While in Louisiana, Poor, far right, met Kevin Singh, a Ball State graduate who rode his bike from California to South Carolina to raise $10,000 for cancer awareness. This photo was taken when Singh, who lives in Louisiana, decided to walk with Poor for a day. Pictured in the middle is Singh~~~s fiancee Carrie.
Arriving in New Orleans was a feeling of accomplishment like none other. Ball State junior Ben Poor could not compare anything to the challenge he had undertaken, as more than 100 supporters and a brass band greeted him at the end of his journey.

After walking for 45 days, Poor reached his final destination with 820 miles behind him, raising more than $11,000 for Hurricane Katrina relief.

Poor, a business student, hopes his journey will lead to other philanthropic opportunities possibly within the military, the Peace Corps, politics or public speaking.

"I've gotten the chance to speak publicly about this, and I might like to speak about other things I might do," he said. "I feel like whatever I choose to do, after doing this walk I feel I can really do anything."

During a family vacation in Europe, Poor said he was inspired to walk for a cause. The particulars eventually followed, and Poor prepared by setting up his route to New Orleans and calling churches for a place to stay along the way.

"I can't even explain it," Poor said. "New Orleans really had a place in my heart ever since the hurricane hit, and I really felt like God was telling me to do this."

In July, Poor set out with a goal - walk to New Orleans and raise $2,000 for Emergency Communities, a nonprofit organization that provides community-based disaster relief. Poor exceeded his goal, raising more than $11,000.

"I was completely blown away by the donations, support and publicity," he said. "So many things were unexpected and unexpectedly good."

Poor walked a majority of the route solo. His travels took him through Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

"About halfway though, I thought, I still have at least three weeks left. My body was broken down. But I kept telling myself that I have to keep going," he said. "Everything ached all the time - but it was nothing compared to the challenges the people of New Orleans experience every day. The storm's devastation is still really sobering."

By Jennifer Strempka

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