Student launches social media campaign to thank heroes one mile at a time

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a new appreciation for all front line workers who are risking their lives to help others. Inspired by their actions and looking for a way to show thanks, a Christian Brothers Academy student started a social media movement.

It’s called Whose Shoes Mile led by CBA sophomore, Delaney Hayden. She started by creating a website and an Instagram page. She asked her friends and family to participate by doing some type of activity for a mile, whether that’s walking, running, skating, you name it. While performing that activity, she encourages people to think about someone who they see as a hero during this pandemic. Following that, she’s asking people to write down who they’re walking for and take a picture with the hashtag #whoseshoesmile.

At first, it was CBA students taking part. Then, Delaney got submissions from people at Le Moyne College, Saint Michael’s College in Vermont, and Pace University in New York City. People were doing a mile for healthcare workers, janitors, sanitation workers, grocery store employees, and the list goes on.

“It was truly inspiring. Like these people are out there every day for us and the least we can do is do a mile for them and say thank you,” Hayden said.

And the results are tangible. One of Delaney’s former teachers ended up running a marathon, thinking of different heroes along the way. Delaney’s mother, Jennifer Hayden, ended up sharing her website with an Instacart employee, who was eternally grateful for the token of appreciation.

“That’s what we were trying to accomplish from the get-go. We wanted them to see it, we wanted them to see how much we appreciate them and how they’re going the extra mile for all of us,” Delaney said.

Her parents are proud to see their daughter’s heart shining through this movement.

“You end up feeling overwhelmed with emotion as a parent I mean this is our objective in raising young children into adulthood. We say, ‘you know, accomplishments are great but who you are at the end of the day and your character matters to us so much more than any of those other things,’” Jennifer Hayden said.

Many people have reached out to Delaney, sharing how emotional the mile has been.

“We realize just how much it helps people, psychologically. There’s a lot of stress, there’s a lot of anxiety, there’s a lot of depression that a lot of people are facing, and if a lot of your thoughts could be routed in gratitude, it definitely could help pull some individuals out of those dark places,” said Travis Hayden, Delaney Hayden’s dad.

To get involved and get your “thank you” message out there, take a photo after doing an activity for a mile and send it in a message to the Instagram @Whose.shoes.mile. You can also send it in an email to whose.shoes.mile@gmail.com.

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