After 16 years, I’m pretty used to the reaction I get when someone finds out that my favorite band is Hanson. “They’re still together?” “Have they made any new music since the nineties?” or, my favorite, just plain laughing in my face. In middle school, when opinions on such things could make or break you as a legitimate teenager in the eyes of your peers, these conversations caused me great anxiety and frustration. Today, I stand up proud and tell anyone who knows me that Hanson (yes, that Hanson), is not only my favorite band, but my saving grace and my inspiration to live bigger, better, and bolder.
It’s safe to say that without Isaac, Taylor and Zac Hanson’s influence, I never would’ve travelled across the world to Africa, and I never would’ve created my company, Fellow Threads. Hanson’s influence on my life took the first step beyond music on the cold sidewalks of downtown Chicago in September 2007. It was that year, after a trip to South Africa, that Isaac, Taylor and Zac began the Take The Walk movement. In every city on their tour, before every show, they hosted a one-mile barefoot walk with anyone who showed up to join them. The walks raised awareness about the extreme poverty and immediate needs of the people of Africa, and raised money for the cause too with the brothers donating $1 on behalf of every single person who walked. One mile, walked barefoot on city streets with a few friends and 1,000 strangers, showed me for the first time how small steps, taken together, create massive change. Over the next 3 years, I participated in 15 more one-mile barefoot walks in extreme heat, freezing rain and even snow. Walking along-side Isaac, Taylor and Zac, hearing stories about their 2 trips to South Africa, and witnessing their passion for the people there firsthand put the calling in my heart to go.
In June 2011, I spent 2 weeks in Nairobi, Kenya, serving along-side missionaries, social workers and teachers in the Mathare Valley, one of the oldest, largest, and most desolate slums in Africa. That trip changed the core of the kind of human being I was before I stepped on that plane. It broadened by view of global society, and at the same time showed me how small the world really is and how alike we all really are. It instilled in me faith in humanity. It showed me that I, not someone smarter or richer or more outgoing, but I (and you too) have the power to create change for the better right here, right now.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a firm believer in the philosophy that everything in life works out for good in exactly the right place, at exactly the right time, in exactly the way that it is supposed to, regardless of our plans. Everything good in your life is the product of countless people that God put in your path to help get you here, to a place where you can serve Him more fully. In my life, Isaac, Taylor and Zac are the most glaringly obvious evidence of this truth. Without knowing it, they literally put my bare feet on the path that I am blessed every day to be walking on. For that, I will be forever grateful to and supportive of my favorite band.
Hanson’s new album, Anthem, is in stores and on iTunes today, and we’re giving away 2 copies to celebrate! Follow us on Twitter @fellowthreads and send us a tweet about who inspires you to live bigger, better, and bolder to be entered to win.