Students Return to the Hilltop After Walking the 130 Mile Road for Hope

August 25, 2022

By Anna Brennan-Curry

On Sat., Aug. 27, 45 Saint Anselm College students arrived on campus having walked 130 miles and raising more than $22,000 for nine regional nonprofit organizations as a part of the annual Road for Hope walk. They were greeted with cheers by their family, friends, and the Anselmian community.

“It feels so good to be back on campus with everybody supporting us. Our community is so loving. I’m just so full of gratitude. Coming into that gate, that feeling never gets old,” said Clay Young ’23 after arriving back on the Hilltop. “This is my second year doing this and I’m so thrilled to be a part of this beautiful community.”

Beginning eight days ago in Lewiston, Maine, this annual pilgrimage “seeks to provide funds for the needy, strengthen the bonds in our communities, and rekindle the belief that every footstep makes a difference."

Participants begin preparing for the journey over the summer, going on hikes, raising funds, and practicing carrying 15 pounds on their back. When they return to campus, they spend time building ties as a team, learning more about the mission of the walk, and attending a send-off mass. They then board a bus to travel to their starting point – the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston.

After a send-off from the Knights of Columbus, walkers settle into a routine of footcare, yoga, walking from 8 in the morning to around 5 in the evening, with breaks in between. In the evening they reflect on their day and process the emotions that the walk brought up. At night, students rest at local churches and schools. Over the years, many traditions have arisen including chants used throughout the walk and the naming of the many blisters walkers develop.

“You will experience everything on this journey, and you will meet people along the way that you wouldn’t have met otherwise,” said Young. “It’s such an amazing thing to be a part of."

“A highlight every year, is seeing people be vulnerable and allowing them to form strong connections,” said Laura Abernathy ’23, one of the Road for Hope leaders. The bonds that form on the walk last for years, and many alumni return to cheer the walkers on along the road.

Road for Hope is led by six student leaders who return to campus early to receive training on wound and other medical care, facilitation skills, and to prepare for the other walkers’ arrival. They provide medical and emotional support for the walkers, making sure that everyone is included. This year, the six student leaders are: Christina Vita ’23, Laura Abernathy ’23, Kiara Phair ’23, Kolby Sirowich ’24, Mike Holzman ’23, and Ally Shea ’23.

The Road for Hope tradition was started in 1998 by Seamus Griesbach, who chose to walk from his hometown of Lisbon, Maine all the way to Manchester to start his freshman year at Saint Anselm College. Along with his brother, the two walked around 130 miles. The next year, Griesbach once again walked the 130-mile journey but this time he did so with over 30 of his friends. They used their walk to raise money for charities between Lewiston and Manchester. It is now a much loved and anticipated tradition on the Hilltop.

This Road for Hope is supporting the following local charities: Relief and Hope Program of Catholic Charities Maine, Community Concepts, Good Shepherd Food Bank, St. Charles School, Rochester Recreation Arena and Youth Services, Candia Moore School Drug Awareness Program, Kids Café, York County Shelter Program, and Upreach Therapeutic Riding Center.

To follow along with the Road for Hope journey visit the Road for Hope Instagram account.

2022 Road for Hope Gallery