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

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.

Launches online workoutWill 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.

“We didn’t want to let the people supporting us down,” said O’Donnell.

Launches online workout

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

Launches online workoutPeter Rouse, Will Messner, Dylan O'Donnell, and Matthew Bacon relaxing after the 17-hour long journey.

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.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.

“The La Salle lacrosse community is a tight knit family,” Battista said. “I would feed them chicken parm and pasta after every tailgate,” he said smiling proudly.

Will Messner and Dylan O'Donnel present $1,000 donation to Luigi's Restaurant & Gourmet Express to owner, Ralph Battista.Dylan O'Donnell present $1,000 donation to Ralph Battista, Owner of Luigi's Restaurant & Gourmet Express..

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, the boys and Battista were able to provide 100 meals to older adults raising grandchildren in the Wiggins Village affordable housing community; a neighborhood severely impacted by COVID-19. 

“It felt really good to give back to these restaurants, see the impact, and to strengthen the community around us,” said Rouse. “We used our creativity to come up with a unique idea to help those in need," he said. It was fun, challenging, and all for a good cause that worked out,” Rouse said.

Will Messner and Dylan O'Donnel present $1,000 donation to Luigi's Restaurant & Gourmet Express to owner, Ralph Battista.: Y team member, De'jona Mallory delivering hot meals and fitness tips to families at Wiggin Village.

Inspired by this story? The boys' Walk the State for Local Businesses Fundraiser is still accepting donations. Join this special cause today.

 

 

 

 

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