WeSonder Together: The Man on a Mission Plans His Next Adventure
In the Summer of 2020, Kurt Freudenreich took on the incredible challenge of hiking over 3,300 miles on the Continental Divide Trail from the US–Mexico border in New Mexico to the US–Canada border in Montana. Why? To raise money to fund a well for a community in Burkina Faso. With Kurt’s dedication and the support of more than 50 donors, the well was completed by The Sonder Project for the community of Wanga in October 2020. This well now provides increased access to clean water for more than 1,700 people.
A picture of members of the community of Wanga in Burkina Faso in front of the well
that was funded through Kurt’s walk.
A year and a half later, Kurt is ready to get on a new trail with a new mission. He is walking an extended version of the Florida Trail—beginning on the Alabama–Florida border and ending in Key West—approximately 1,500 miles total. He plans to start on January 6, and if all goes according to plan, he will finish before April.
What is his motivation this time? He hopes to sponsor 25 students with The Sonder Project to ensure students that are vulnerable to dropping out have the resources they need to stay in school. It only costs $225 to sponsor a student, so Kurt’s total goal is to raise $5,625.
Currently Sonder sponsored students attending Kasikidzi school in Malawi.
We recently interviewed Kurt to talk about what he’s been up to since the Continental Divide Trail and his plans for the Florida Trail:
Q:What have you been doing since you completed the CDT?
A: “I started a new business after purchasing a sawmill to try and recycle all the wood from my tree company. I’ve also been working in my community to create a Freeport Rotary Club. We are considered a satellite of my longtime Mid-Bay Rotary Club, and once we have enough members, we will become an independent club. I’ve raised money for athletics for the Freeport Cheer Camps and after–school leagues. I’m involved with my church and doing fundraisers for them, including serving food at events. And I started taking Jiu-Jitsu classes in March, which has been incredibly therapeutic. I was inspired by my 13–year–old nephew, who wants to become a police officer. I felt like if he was going to be an officer, he should also have some background in martial arts. I figure that if you are in a tense situation as an officer, martial arts training could be another way to avoid someone having to take out a gun. I first did Jiu-Jitsu with him as encouragement. Now my wife also comes, and it’s become a family event.”
Kurt (5th from right) and his wife Kim (4th from right) pose with a group from Freeport Jiu-Jitsu.
Q: Why did you decide to walk the Florida Trail?
A: “Florida is my home state, and I’ve never walked this trail before, so I figured I should represent. It’s certainly not as popular of a trail, but I think Florida doesn’t get enough credit as a hiking destination, so I thought I could bring some attention to it.”
Q: How are you approaching this upcoming trail
differently than the last?
A: “When I hiked the CDT, I was very focused on completion and plowed through it. As a result, I feel like I missed out on some of the softer moments. For this trip, Jiu-Jitsu has encouraged me to slow down. I’m much less focused on trying to go as fast as I can and more focused on enjoying each moment.”
Kurt getting a little practice in preparation for the upcoming hike.
Q: Why are you focused on sponsoring students,
as opposed to walking for wells as before?
A: “It was always a dream of mine to make it possible for a community to gain access to clean water. Sure, I did the walking, but it would never have happened if it wasn’t for all the people who’ve donated and helped me along the way. I’m only getting older, and I feel like I have a debt to pay. I need to pay it forward. Supporting and providing encouragement for students in impoverished communities to attend school is the best way I can think of to do that. The ripple effect of education changes the status quo. We can change the cycle of poverty with education.”
Kurt Freudenreich is scheduled to start his walk on January 6. Support his mission by donating.
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