FOUR LA SALLE ACADEMY LACROSSE ALUM WALK ENTIRE STATE OF RHODE ISLAND IN 17 HOURS; RAISING MONEY FOR LOCAL BUSINESSES
BOYS HISTORICALLY TREK 45 MILES IN ONE DAY RAISING $3,600 TO SUPPORT LOCAL COMMUNITIES
What initially started as an idea to stave quarantine boredom quickly inspired a statewide fundraiser to support local small business and charities in need throughout Rhode Island during COVID-19.
La Salle Academy class of 2017 grads, Matthew Bacon, Dylan O’Donnell, Will Messner, and Peter Rouse were stuck at home from college after a three-month lockdown when they mustered up a plan to walk across the entire state of Rhode Island in under 24 hours.
“I can walk the whole state of Rhode Island,” O’Donnell, a 21-year-old Providence College student, said in a challenge to his friends.
After convincing his three fellow hiking buddies to join him on the ambitious quest, Messner, a finance major at Babson College, immediately set up a Go Fund Me page wrangling the support of family and friends.
“We saw how small businesses in our community were struggling as a result of COVID-19 and wanted to come together to make a difference,” said Messner.
The 17-hour, 45-mile expedition began at 4:00 a.m. from Rouse’s house in Wrentham, Massachusetts and finished at 9:30 p.m. in Narragansett, Rhode Island
“Our whole goal was to get our feet in the water,” said Messner.
Will Messner, Peter Rouse, Dylan O’Donnell, and Matthew Bacon taking a snack break.
Charting their course in Apple Maps, the four best friends from high school strategically planned their adventure by soliciting support from their parents who provided water, meals and pain relief along the way.
Right out of the gate, the determined explorers managed to walk 14 miles straight without any breaks. But after mile 20, fatigue started to kick in.
“Once we hit the marathon point, that’s when the pain, cramping, sun poisoning and blistering started,” said Rouse, a 21-year-old student at Villanova University.
The boys documented their day-long journey on the popular social media site, TikTok garnering a following of over 6,000 supporters.
They continued to power through the pain and unforeseen challenges with the help of encouraging text messages and drive-bys from fans throughout the day.
93,000 steps and $3,600 later, the exhausted boys happily celebrated their completed mission among their La Salle friends and family by cooling off in the waters surrounding Narragansett Pier which provided much-needed relief to their sore feet.
We never expected to raise this much money,” said Rouse. “It was a cause that a lot of
people could get behind after seeing their favorite local restaurants struggle in a situation that was completely out of their control,” Rouse continued.
The inspired philanthropists split the proceeds three-ways and generously donated to Cindy’s Diner and Restaurant in Scituate, Bradley Café in Providence, and Luigi’s Restaurant & Gourmet Express in Johnston.
Dylan O’Donnell and Will Messner present $1,000 donation to Cindy’s Restaurant
“I’ve watched these boys grow up over the yeard and they are such impressive young men, said Ralph Battista, Owner of Luigi’s Restaurant & Gourmet Express. “I wasn’t surprised that they had completed this challenge,” continued Battista. “I was completely overwhelmed when they showed up with a check for $1,000,” he said. “I’m used to taking care of them, not the other way around.”
Battista developed a strong bond with the boys over the course of six years when his two sons began playing for the La Salle Academy lacrosse team.
Inspired by their generosity, Battista chose to pay it forward by donating proceeds and nutritious meals to the YMCA of Greater Providence Food & Fitness Program in partnership with the Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging. Together,