Brothers Aiden and Louis Ardine say that the restaurant industry has been good to them. So, when the pandemic hit, affecting the livelihoods of so many, but especially small restaurants, bars, food service, and their staff, the Ardine Brothers wanted to be part of a solution for their struggling tribe. So, in May of 2021, they decided to take a 3,200 mile walk across America to raise awareness and money.
Art & Design alum Louis Ardine and his brother, RU alum Aidan, are set to trek across the U.S. to raise money for a nonprofit for restaurant workers. “We feel [they've] have been left behind during this pandemic," Aidan says. Follow @ardinesxamerica
on IG https://t.co/N9OdXGHoTM pic.twitter.com/HOJs2IkE9X
— Mason Gross (@MasonGross) April 28, 2021
The New Jerseyians started in Asbury Park, NJ on May 1, and walked all the way to San Francisco on October 9, ending their journey in the Redwood National Forest just outside the iconic West Coast city. They were able to complete their goal in five months. That’s a huge accomplishment.
When they started their journey, the brothers told NY local CBS 2:
“To support the service industry, which has so long supported us,” Louis said.
“Trying to hit big cities with a culinary scene. We’re going to interview restaurant workers and small business owners across the country, to share their stories with the rest of America so they can a bit of insight into what this year has been like for us,” Aiden added.
The brothers documented their journey via Instagram on @ardinesxamerica, from the wheat fields of Nebraska, to the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah, to the Continental Divide and the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, the brothers shared pictures and video of the grandeur, beauty, and wonder that is the American landscape.
But they also shared moments of the bond between them. In an August 21 post, when they crossed the Continental Divide, Aiden wrote of his brother:
“To commemorate this special day, I would like to share some photos I took of Louis from today (and one from last night). As many of you know, Louis is stronger and more capable than I in many things. He’s also the fastest walker I personally know (and I am a pretty effing fast walker). I plan out the routes every day, but he’s the one leading the way as we walk through cities and cornfields, through forests and valleys, and today, climb some real badass mountains. He’s the best. And I love him.”
Absolutely precious and heartwarming.
Their goal was to raise $30,000 for the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, and other charities that were helping restaurant workers. Thanks to the exposure, as well as a huge donation drive partnership with Verizon, the brothers ended up raising $70,000!
The brothers appeared on Anderson Cooper Full Circle to discuss their journey here.
Their Instagram post on October 9, 2021 featured two beautiful shots of first the Atlantic Coast, then the Pacific Coast, with this message:
The first picture was taken at sunrise on May 1st, in Asbury Park, NJ. The second was taken only hours ago, October 9th, in San Francisco, CA
162 days, 4 time zones, 11 states, countless cities and small towns. We met tons of great people along the way.
We could not have done this without your help. We raised tens of thousands of dollars for restaurant workers with @rwcfusa and @thecocofund.
You guys did that. Nice work.
We love you all, truly.
I am very happy right now.
“This would not have been possible without the help of a huge community of people, whether people were donating or helping us navigate our way across the United States.
“This was definitely an adventure founded in a very hopeful notion about America, and it confirmed our suspicion that people are inherently good and want to help their neighbors.”
Their entire Instagram feed is filled with that goodwill and neighborliness exhibited by average Americans, and it can do nothing less than put a smile on your face. Feeling depressed? Turn off the news, and go visit the Ardine Brothers Instagram feed.
Their encounters with strangers left the biggest impression. In the searing Nebraska heat, a driver who’d passed them doubled back and handed out cold Gatorades. In Iowa, a couple invited them for dinner and served them steak and homemade macaroni and cheese.
In Nevada, a woman running a campground let them stay free of charge and told them about her niece, who had attempted a cross-country bicycle ride to raise awareness for breast cancer — but tragically was killed along the way when she was struck by a car.
“It reminded me of the gravity of what we were doing,” Louis Ardine said. “And how meaningful this was not only to us, but to other people.”
Aiden plans to write a book about the experience.
“Amazing journey,” Louis said. “I’ve always looked for the best in people. We found it.”
The Ardine Brothers sought to do good, and they chose to get out of their bubble to accomplish this. The lesson: when we get out of our bubbles, forget about ourselves, and seek goodness, beauty, adventure, and joy in the journey, we are sure to find this and more. Perhaps this type of adventure should be the prescription for all Americans, especially the young.