TRAVERSE CITY — Quentin Callahan slumped in the corner of a booth at Mackinac Brewing, eyes closed, hood over his head.
“I’m exhausted,” Callahan said late last week after he finished a 160-mile walk to Traverse City in eight days.
The Grand Valley State University student was one of 20 Alpha Tau Omega fraternity members to participate in the walk. The spring break event raised about $30,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Michigan chapter.
The men set out March 6 from the GVSU campus and walked about 20 miles a day on trails and road shoulders. They arrived at the History Center of Traverse City on Thursday at about 2 p.m.
“There are blisters everywhere, a lot of muscle strains and joint pain,” said Zack Amrein, the fraternity’s philanthropy chairman. “People wore ankle braces, knee braces. One guy did have to go see a doctor.”
Callahan, 18, struggled with flu-like symptoms for the last two days of the walk. But he persevered with the help of cold and flu remedies and the encouragement of his fraternity brothers.
“There were four or five times I wanted to stop walking,” the Greenville resident said. “But it’s my first year walking and I wanted to walk the whole 160 miles. There are some people who can’t walk at all, and I’m just doing this one thing.”
It’s the second year for the walk, called ATO Walks Hard: Many Steps for MS. This year’s event was colder and more difficult than the last because of deeper snow on the White Pine Trail and others, said Amrein, 19, of Lockport, Ill.
The group walked during daylight hours and bedded down at night in local churches along the way, he said. They carried backpacks with necessities like water and protein bars while a support crew of nine drove with overnight gear. Local churches, restaurants and community groups provided many of the meals.