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University of Colorado Boulder sophomores Bradley Hansen, left, and Josh Harmon walk to prepare for a two-day, 84.6 mile trek from Denver to Fort Carson to raise money for NAACP Boulder County.
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Two University of Colorado Boulder students will walk 84.6 miles in 48 hours to raise money for NAACP Boulder County.

Josh Harmon and Bradley Hansen, 19-year-old sophomores at CU Boulder, will walk from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Denver’s City Park to Fort Carson near Colorado Springs on Monday and Tuesday. The 84.6-mile journey represents the 8 minutes and 46 seconds George Floyd was pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25, with his death sparking nationwide protests against police brutality and systemic racism.

NAACP Boulder County spokesperson Susan Pfretzschner said she was in awe that the duo came up with such a unique fundraiser. Harmon and Hansen have already raised $5,000 of their $10,000 goal for “Strive Forward, Step Forward,” with all funds going directly to the NAACP.

“It really hit me hard that they would come up with this, that two young people would be so changed by the events of our time, by the murder of George Floyd, to say hey, we can do something, we can make a difference,” Pfretzschner said.

Harmon and Hansen, who are white, said they are uncomfortable with the spotlight and being praised for their effort.

“Even interviews like this — we’re doing it because we want people to donate to the cause,” Hansen said.

Harmon and Hansen said they were outraged by Floyd’s death and wanted to take action, particularly when they saw friends and family members post a black square on social media in support of Black Lives Matter and then move on.

“It’s nothing new — police brutality or mistreatment of African American people. It was a moment where we didn’t want it to be an issue that would slip back into the background and people would move on with their lives,” Harmon said.

They also want the walk to spark conversations about racism and inequality in their communities, whether that’s at home in Castle Rock or on campus in Boulder.

“If we can get our community in on this issue, getting them having a conversation that they haven’t had before, that’s the center of this entire walk,” Harmon said.

Harmon and Hansen have been friends since elementary school, but in the last year have started taking long walks — for example, they started walking from Boulder at 3:30 a.m. on a Friday and walked all the way to Castle Rock, arriving at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday. The walk was 62 miles in 22 hours.

“Once we realized we could do that and push our bodies that far, I think that’s when we realized we could do this ‘Step Forward, Strive Forward,’ especially for a great cause like NAACP,” Hansen said.

The duo might sleep a little bit more this time around, and they’ve actually told their parents about it and enlisted them to drop off meals along the way. There could be more walks in the future — Harmon and Hansen are already brainstorming what other causes they want to raise money for.

“This is our first step in a new direction of going on these adventures that not only benefit us but help others,” Harmon said.

Details about the fundraiser are available online at gf.me/u/yjxgar.

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