Hansons take a hike for barefoot children

Buzz up!BY DAVID HARPER - Tulsa World
Published: May 17, 2009

TULSA — The brothers who make up the musical group Hanson invited Tulsans on Saturday to learn what it’s like to walk a mile in the footsteps of someone who doesn’t have shoes.


It was the latest installment of "Take the Walk,” in which people hike barefoot for a mile to raise funds for various African causes.

"We’ve had very passionate fans for a long time,” Taylor Hanson said after Saturday’s walk concluded. "We’ve been blown away by their response to this.”

A few years ago, the brothers partnered with TOMS Shoes to provide footwear for African children.

At each stop on tour, the Hansons would walk a mile with fans to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and poverty in Africa. TOMS Shoes donated a pair of shoes to a poor African child for each pair sold.

The Hansons visited Africa to help deliver the 50,000 donated shoes.

That turned out to be just the beginning. "Take the Walk” has expanded to help build schools and provide clean water wells in Africa.

While many bands are more than happy to revel in the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle, the Hansons use their celebrity to make the world a better place.

Zac Hanson said that "music has a way of communicating a message,” and the "Take the Walk” effort has been an example of channeling the emotions that music stirs into something tangible and productive.

Most who took part in Saturday’s walk were young women and girls who seemed elated to be near the brothers.

Isaac Hanson acknowledged that some fans are drawn to events such as Saturday’s walk — which wound around the downtown Tulsa grounds of the Blue Dome Arts Festival — for a chance to see and talk to the band.

Still, he said, if the cause the brothers are advocating "sinks in on even one person, then we’ve done our job.”

Taylor Hanson said Africa "has enormous potential. This is an extraordinary opportunity for our generation.”

Their fans shouldn’t worry that the brothers are neglecting their music. They plan to tour in the fall and are targeting 2010 for a new album.

In the meantime, Taylor Hanson said, the brothers and their fans are enjoying "an extraordinary reward out of doing something that really makes a difference.”