The Heart-y Globetrotter

Laura Walker Hitchhiking

Alumna roams the world, VOLunteering her services to charity

Laura Walker (’08) has kicked the Walkathon into overdrive.

Walker, who graduated from UT Knoxville with a degree in interior design, decided to combine three of her passions—travel, running, and philanthropy—into one massive endeavor: running in marathons around the world, with the sponsorship proceeds going toward various charities. The donations are collected through her website,

After graduation, Walker spent the summer in Africa, an experience that fueled her desire to take a lengthy trip to explore different parts of the world. In 2009 she ran the Chicago Marathon to raise money for post-secondary education in Kenya, and these two experiences led her to use her trip to raise money and awareness for different charities around the world.

“I thought, why not try to do something significant while I travel? I’m going to so many new places and want to raise awareness for grass-roots organizations making small but significant impacts,” Walker says.

So on March 8, 2010, Walker started her journey. So far, she has run in the Dead Sea Marathon, the Rome Marathon, and the International Peace Half-Marathon. However, the race sites are only a few of the stops on her voyage, which has so far included travels in Italy, Malawi, Kenya, Jordan, Rwanda, and a number of other countries. Her travel experiences, as well as other trip anecdotes, are chronicled in the blog on her website:

18 May 2010: Boarded my bus for Rwanda, going via Uganda. L-o-o-ong bus ride. Made a stop at 2 am to kick someone off for stealing someone’s shoes, then I had to stop at 3 am at a random bar in the middle of nowhere to use the bathroom. Travel: always something interesting.

Dead Sea MarathonAlthough Walker urges donors to contribute $5 to sponsor her in the marathons, she also solicits general donations not connected to racing that go to various charities.

“I volunteer at different places along my trip and want to make a small contribution if possible. I believe that donations, regardless of how small they may be, can add up to be of significance,” Walker says.

So far Walker has donated to Questscope, which is headquartered in Jordan, and a microlending project in Kenya. The Kenyan project funded a video show that raised money to send some local boys to secondary school. She also has volunteered with and donated to the Back to School Foundation in Malawi, which provides free tutoring services and covers school fees to send young adults to secondary school. Walker plans to work with more charities as the trip progresses.

Walker returns home in mid-November, but you can follow her adventures on

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Steven Bellisle July 20, 2010 - 1:03 am

Laura Walker has found a unique way to make a difference in this world. We need more people like her. I wish her well and hope she stays safe.

Laura Walker July 22, 2010 - 4:06 pm

Thanks Steven!

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