Update: The Eddie's Challenge Facebook page reported that Eddie raised more than $4,300 in cash and about $1,000 in supply donations.
Original story, March 7, 2012:
Rhode Island is so small you could walk across it in a few hours. Or is it?
What started as an innocent joke regarding the size of the smallest state in the U.S. has set one 10-year-old boy on a physical, educational, and rewarding journey to prove that his home state isn't so tiny, all while raising money for a local animal shelter.
Fourth grader Eddie Roia of Riverside, along with his grandmother and homeschool teacher Jeanne Casiano, decided to put a creative twist on a school project by intertwining Roia's studies with a way to benefit the Bristol Animal Shelter.
"Basically what I'm doing is walking across Rhode Island over five days to prove that it isn't such an easy thing to do," Roia says. "I'm collecting donations and pledges from people for the walk that will go to the shelter to create and fill a Kids Corner for children who visit the shelter."
From April 14 through April 19, 2012, Roia and Casiano will walk more than eight miles a day across the state to not only raise money for the shelter, but also as part of Roia's homeschool curriculum.
"He's learning about public speaking, geography, and history while learning how to chart maps and work on his grammar through Facebook and blog updates," Casiano says. "We're also walking nearly every day to train for the walk across the state, which will count for his physical education."
So far, Roia has raised more than $900 from business owners, residents, family and supporters throughout the East Bay. He currently has a goal of $1,500, which is enough to provide the basics for the kids corner, but every bit above and beyond his goal will help the shelter.
"I chose to do this and raise money for the Bristol Animal Shelter because my aunt works there and I always went there growing up to play with the animals," says Roia's inner pet lover. Roia already has nine cats of his own.
"Plus, they really need a new shelter," he says. "I wanted a way to help and it all just seemed perfect."
The public is invited to join Roia and his grandmother on the first two days of the walk, which Roia has charted through Bristol, Warren and Barrington for the first day, then the rest of the bike path on the second day. From there, he and his grandmother will continue on their walk across Rhode Island together so that he can learn more about the history, geography and beauty of the rest of the state.
The Eddie's Challenge walk will kick off at the Bristol Animal Shelter promptly at 9 am. Those who wish to participate in the walk can join in at the shelter or at one of the planned stops along the course on the first day (incuding the Bristol Town Beach followed by the Warren Animal Shelter and the Barrington YMCA) or the second day in areas of Riverside, East Providence and Providence.
To donate to Eddie's Challenge, visit the official donation page on the Friends of the Bristol Animal Shelter website. Stay up to date on Roia's progress by following the Eddie's Challenge Facebook page!