Two of our college students, Riley Hayford and Ashely Aitken, decided to do what they could during quarantine to love people tangibly. Here is their story:
“When quarantine began, we were challenged with the question, ‘What role do you play in this’? Since the beginning, we both wrestled with individual, nagging desires to step up and play our part. We have been left in awe of those around us working on behalf of our communities. Why not use the resources we have been given to make a difference and help others? Which for us, looked like walking 26.2 miles on behalf of others. We asked people to sponsor each mile of the marathon and then we would donate that money to NWA Food Bank, Refugee Aid Mission, and Mercy International.
We saw God show up in so many tangible ways throughout the whole process! The original goal was to have people sponsor miles, ideally allowing each of us to raise $350 if we got every mile sponsored. We started fundraising on Monday, a week before our walk and, by Thursday, we both had all of our miles sponsored, as well as extra donations on top of it. We continued to receive donations throughout the week leading up to the marathon.
Knowing that we have a Father who had already shown us he can do immeasurably more than we could ever imagine, we began our walk praying faithfully for a new goal of $1,500. The more miles we walked, the more and more people donated. By our 26th mile, 9 hours later, we raised a total of $2,060. In those 9 hours, The Lord exceeded every dream we could have ever imagined and it was so fun to be able to watch in awe as people gave with open hands and generous hearts.”
Not only this, but as we hit mile 20, I (Riley) was in too much pain between my blistered feet and tight legs to continue to walk. We had a friend bring a bike for me to ride the remaining 6 miles, but only to find that the tube of the tire had a hole in it. That’s when a couple approached us in the parking lot we were in, and Ashley recognized the woman from her student teaching internship! Explaining to them our mission, they immediately offered to help us fix our tire. When they realized they didn’t have the tools to fix it, the woman offered up her own bike so that we could finish our walk. In what felt like a helpless moment, ready to announce that we weren’t going to be able to finish, the Lord continued to show up and extend his never-ending kindness. In those 9 hours, The Lord exceeded every dream we could have ever imagined and it was so fun to be able to watch in awe as people gave with open hands and generous hearts.”