Posted on October 13, 2008 4:57 AM
Hanson walks for charity

By Beth Kaiserman
Collegian Staff Writer
It was a beautiful day in State College Sunday as Hanson led fans on a walk to raise money to fight AIDS and poverty in Africa before their show at the State Theatre.

Before the walk, a mass of mostly female fans equipped with cameras of all sizes, gathered in front of the State Theatre eagerly waiting for Hanson. Just after 3 p.m., three familiar faces appeared behind the State Theatre's glass to meet 300 glass-shattering screams.

Taylor Hanson pumped up the excited crowd via megaphone and the one-mile walk began. Fans tried to walk near the Hansons and ask them various questions. At Burrowes Street and Beaver Avenue, Isaac Hanson directed drifting fans to stay on the sidewalk.

Upon reaching the half-mile mark at Central Parklet, barefoot walkers listened and snapped photos as Taylor, 25, told walkers their bare feet were "totally in style."

The walk continued from Foster Avenue to Pugh Street and back to the State Theatre, where people registered their names to be counted as a participant. As part of the band's "Walk Around the World" tour, Hanson will donate $1 for each person who walked the mile and registered.

Each person chose what they wanted their money used for: providing access to vital health care, AIDS treatment and research, shoes, education or access to clean water.

The first walk was in Nashville, Tenn., Taylor said, and 6,707 miles have been walked so far, according to the tour's Web site.

The goal is to walk 24,902 miles -- the earth's circumference at the equator.

Though they only arrived in State College Sunday morning, Zac Hanson, 22, said the town had "beautiful foliage," and Taylor said it was the "most beautiful day for a walk we've had so far."

The band encourages participants to reach out to their schools, churches and other groups to help fight global issues, Zac said. People can organize their own walks, and the band will donate $1 per participant, Isaac, 27, said.

Students should avoid labeling themselves "poor college students," Zac said.

"No matter how bad of an economic crisis we're in, we're still better off than the rest of the world," he said. "For us, it's just about the power of the individual -- about the way we look at our own power to affect things."

The band was inspired to travel to South Africa after friends delivered medical supplies to a hospital there, Zac said.

The Hanson brothers have gone there twice and hope to return to achieve their goals, such as building houses, he said.

"[People] can impact huge issues now. People need to do things they feel passionate about and not feel stopped because they feel inadequate," he said. "AIDS is one of the biggest crisises in the world [and] gets ignored because sex is involved."

AIDS afflicts more women than men, he added. Women account for more than a quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses and women of color are especially affected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It's great when someone who's a guy says something like that," said Gabrielle Dyer, a 2007 Ohio University women's studies graduate who works for Planned Parenthood. "It has more weight; more people will listen."

Nicole Pitzer, who has attended Hanson's walks before, said they got lost in Northampton, Mass., and walked about five miles. She said walking with Hanson makes the band "more accessible" than before.

"I think other celebrities do [get] involved on a very basic level," Pitzer said. "Walking on the street with people is different."

Matt Schoenberg (junior-broadcast journalism) took a video for his girlfriend to "capture all the memories," he said.

"She's in love with them," he said. "I'm here to support her."