CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- The saying goes, "You'll never understand a person until you've walked a mile in their shoes." How about 3,300 miles? That's how far a former Wilmington city employee has walked to raise awareness and money so needy people can have clean water.
"There's nothing more beautiful than to get to the ocean," Brook Hinman said as he wrapped up his walk in Carolina Beach this morning. "Even when you drive to go on a vacation, just to get there is amazing. So to spend over five months walking to it, I don't have words."
Hinman went through five pairs of shoes on his journey from the Pacific shores of Oregon to the Atlantic coast of his home state; 3,300 miles all to raise $25,000 for clean water.
"Right about one billion people lack access to safe, clean drinking water right now, so my motivation was purely based off of their need for something as basic as water and our ability to go and do something really practical to help bring clean water to them," Hinman said.
The money raised will go toward building five wells in Africa, South America or the Middle East.
For the last couple miles, Hinman carried a 40-pound pack to see what it's like to make multiple trips a day to get water that isn't even clean.
"Most people can't imagine walking 10 miles, but 3,300 miles for someone you've never met to have a necessity in life is just incredible," Hinman's wife Angel said. "I couldn't be more proud. I'm so excited for him."
Angel and the couple's son Kiernan traveled cross-country with Brook, but Brook hit the pavement on his own.
"We never wanted to give up. That was never an option," Brook said. "One of the hardest things was to be alone most days, just out there by myself, walking. Knowing that I was just doing it for people I might never meet, but it was still worth it."
Hinman said he encountered all types of weather, people and animals along the way, including a hungry black bear.
He said he learned it is possible to make big strides toward helping others even in a tough economy.
Angel is writing a book about the journey and hopes to get it published.
If you'd like to celebrate with Brook and learn more about his trek, he is having a party and victory lap at Halyburton Park tomorrow from 9 to 11:30 a.m.