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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

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Walk with purpose

PROVIDED
John Ball, Class of 1978, aims to travel across the country to raise money for an Aggie Ring scholarship. 
PROVIDED John Ball, Class of 1978, aims to travel across the country to raise money for an Aggie Ring scholarship. 

From Southern California’s golden coastline to the gulf stream waters of Florida, one former student plans to trek across the country. His goal is to cover 2,673 miles in 170 days, and raise $25,000 to create an endowed Aggie Ring scholarship.
Retired Air Force colonel and outdoor enthusiast John Ball, Class of ’78, said his years of an active lifestyle and training helped prepare him for the challenge.
“I love to walk, I used to run, but now walk because it’s better for my knees,” Ball said. “I generally walk 200 miles a month just for the exercise of it.”
Ball said his love for walking motivated him to plan a cross-country trek a while ago. For Ball, giving back to A&M, while still keeping it personal, was important.
“The idea began to formulate itself in my mind. I could create an endowment with the Association of Former Students, and I made it even more focused and personal by giving the endowed ring scholarship,” Ball said.
Nic Taunton, director of development at the Association of Former Students, said he was impressed by Ball’s dedication to the scholarship.
“I think what he’s doing is a unique and creative way to raise money for students,” Taunton said. “Other groups have raised Aggie Ring scholarships, but I’ve never seen one individual go to such lengths to raise awareness in every city he walks through, wearing his A&M T-shirt and throwing up a gig ‘em.”
Taunton said there have been 98 Aggie Rings awarded from endowment scholarships since its establishment in 2009.
Taunton said each endowment has $25,000. From this money, $1,000 accrues annually from interest. This money can be used to pay for one male ring or two female rings.
Ball said he felt the ring endowment scholarship would help reward hardworking students.
“I knew it would be worthwhile to actually be able to purchase a ring for someone who made it to that point in their academics,” Ball said.
All of the expenses that he will encounter on the walk are self-funded. Additionally, he will have no one else joining him on the route, no walking companion, no driver following him.
“I imagine that the boredom will be a major challenge, being without someone to talk to, 170 days on the road by myself,” Ball said. “And then there’s the sheer challenge of walking significant distance every day, day after day.”
However, Ball will not be totally alone. The hiker said his route considers cities throughout the country where Aggies reside.
“Of the 170 days, 93 of them will be in cities with Aggies,” Ball said.
Ball said he hopes his walk will continue to inspire those who are sympathetic to the cause of “The Walking Aggie Endowed Ring Scholarship.”
“No contribution is too large or too small,” Ball said.
All contributions can be made by visiting thewalkingaggie.com and clicking on the “donate here” tab.

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