The challenge for Luke Hammer and Jake Salm, a pair of seniors at Summit Christian Academy, was not only braving the winter conditions during a fundraising walk, but the distance of travel as well.
Hammer and Salm set out on foot during the early morning hours of Dec. 27 for a 28-mile walk from SCA in Lee’s Summit to Olathe, Kan. City Hall despite frigid temperatures hovering around a high of 30 degrees.
The trek was not a senior prank or a dare, but a good-will gesture to raise money for a group of Eritrean refugee children in Ethiopia. The money raised – more than $500 when the two started their journey – will help support the refugees through the Blue-River Kansas City Baptist Association and their ministry.
“I believe people are still actually donating,” Hammer said in an interview with the Journal shortly after he and Salm completed the walk that took more than 10 hours. “So, that’s really cool.”
The duo hopes the charity walk can help raise awareness of different refugee camps in the Horn of Africa as well as raise support for the Mai Ayni Refugee Camp children who struggle to have just the basic essentials of everyday life.
“Well, my legs hurt, that’s all,” Salm said with a laugh after being asked how he was feeling. “It felt good to do it for a good cause. I don’t think we would have gone the whole way if it wasn’t for a cause; like if it didn’t have a reason, I probably wouldn’t have gone the whole way.”
The journey for Hammer and Salm – draped in safety wear and bundled in clothing to keep warm – started at 5:15 a.m. from the parking lot of SCA and continued on Missouri 150 Highway west toward Kansas. After walking more than 13 miles on M-150 the pair completed the jaunt by walking more than nine additional miles after M-150 turned into 135th St. in Kansas.
The determined classmates finished the expedition at the Olathe City Hall close to 3:30 p.m.
“It was one of the hardest things I think either of us has ever done,” Hammer said. “We did really well up to about 15 miles, then after that our legs just started killing. But it wasn’t bad. We never had any problems with traffic or anything. We just either used the grass or sidewalks, and there were a lot more sidewalks then we expected. We had to occasionally wait for a stoplight, but apart from that we kept chugging solid and made it.”
Salm added: “I think we have a hot tub planned in our very near future.”
Rodney Hammer, Luke’s father, escorted by vehicle the two from the finish line back to the parking lot of SCA. Rodney Hammer said he came away from the experience “impressed” by his son and Salm’s mission.
“I am very impressed in an era of self gratification and lack of concern for others that these two young men would selflessly sacrifice in freezing temperatures for the sake of helping refugee children they have never met and can receive nothing in return from,” the elder Hammer said. “They are limping physically today (Dec. 28) but happy that they could show the love of Christ tangibly by aiding children who suffer greatly in refugee camps in the Horn of Africa.”