Walking the walk: Barefoot fans support Hanson family

by: JENNIFER CHANCELLOR World Scene Writer
10/4/2007 11:38 AM


The latest on this story: Report says Issac Hanson diagnosed with pulmonary embolism


It was off.

Then it was on.

And then it was really on.

What started out as a planned homecoming performance for pop band Hanson turned into an unexpected rally of sorts for ailing Hanson brother Isaac, who was taken to a Dallas hospital early Wednesday morning.

He was in severe pain with a blood clot lodged in his arm and he needed emergency surgery, said his publicity manager, Ken Philips.

Wednesday night's show was postponed, but an afternoon, one-mile walk to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS and poverty in Africa went on as planned.

Media outlets initially reported the walk and the show were canceled. Then they reported the walk was on. Then they reported it was off.

No matter. Fans had been waiting hours to see the Hansons -- some even camping overnight in tents -- and when word spread about Isaac's illness, hundreds more also showed up to offer encouragement to the Hanson family.

Danielle Griffin, 21, from New Mexico, said she was disappointed that the concert was postponed, but admitted that she was also happy just to be able to help raise awareness for the cause and to show support for the band.

"We are all one family," she said.

Fans came from as far away as Utah, New York City, Australia and even Japan -- show or no show.

Participants included young women and men, children, mothers, fathers and even babies pushed in strollers.

"The news (of Isaac's illness) was everywhere. But I'd rather them cancel a show than endanger his life," said Mallory Bishop, 23, from Utah. "I'm still here, no matter what."

A little after 3 p.m., Hanson brothers Zac and Taylor and several hundred fans -- many of them shoeless -- embarked on the mile walk.

"I talked to Ike this morning," Taylor, using Isaac's nickname, told the crowd through a megaphone. "And he said the walk must go on."

The crowd erupted in cheers.

Fans raced to catch up with the brothers.

As the block-long procession ambled through downtown, both brothers explained the importance of their tour and of their album, both named "The Walk."

On each tour stop, they are holding one-mile walks. So far, almost 9,000 people have traversed 15 miles, said Taylor.

"Change starts with a step," Zac Hanson said. "When the heartland of America moves, the world changes."

In conjunction with the tour, TOMS shoe company will send a pair of shoes to poor children in Africa for every pair of shoes sold, Taylor said.

Zac said the band hopes to take 50,000 pairs of shoes to Africa in November.

Taylor reminded the crowd that an AIDS awareness walk is scheduled Saturday in Tulsa. More information on that is available at www.tulsaworld.com/AIDSwalk.

As the marchers approached Cain's Ballroom, the crowd broke into "Great Divide," the first single from the album. All proceeds from the single are also going to an AIDS hospital in Africa.

After the walk ended, a sweaty Zac and Taylor signed autographs for nearly an hour, and Taylor helped man the TOMS shoe table.

"With 9,000 people walking so far, think about the impact that could have if each one of them did something, somewhere," said Zac. "It's huge."