Rasheed Hooda is redefining what it means to age in today’s world. This year the Houstonian is dedicating a remarkable journey to mark his 64th year, where he will walk hundreds of miles to highlight the values that have sustained him in his life. Rasheed has partnered with the Aga Khan Foundation USA to use the walk to raise awareness and funds for AKF’s work across Africa and Asia.
Walking the Walk
Rasheed has been building up to this journey for several years. A few years ago, as he approached his 60th birthday, Rasheed decided to climb the tallest mountain in Texas, Guadalupe Peak. It was a rigorous hike that took 11 and a half hours. That trip inspired his nephew and others to undertake the same journey.
Two years later, Rasheed stepped up his goal: a journey from Chicago to Santa Monica along Route 66 on foot. He walked more than 2,800 miles over a six-month period. He met an estimated 2,000 people on his solo journey. Along the way he camped, stayed in motels, and accepted the hospitality of strangers who approached him during his hike and offered him lodging.
He posted his experiences regularly, gained social media followers, and made lifelong friends with the people he encountered along the way.
64 Marathons in 64 Days
It was during that journey that Rasheed was inspired to dedicate his 64th year to an even bigger goal, which he described on his blog, Ageless Adventurers. In the spirit of his favorite song, the Beatles’ hit “When I’m Sixty-Four,” Rasheed mapped out a trip starting in Houston, where he lives now, then moving north toward his first home in the U.S.: Alva, Oklahoma, where he came to study at Northwest Oklahoma State University in the early 1970s.
“I will be walking from Alva, Oklahoma, east on Highway 64 to Concord, Arkansas.” Then he will dip south through Louisiana and east Texas, and then back to Houston. The entire trip will take 64 days, walking a minimum of 26.2 miles each day: the distance of a marathon. “In other words, 64 marathons in 64 days.”
Throughout this epic journey, he intends to highlight awareness on social issues, especially the power of self-reliance and breaking the cycle of poverty. For decades, Rasheed has been a strong supporter of the Aga Khan Foundation, volunteering with its Walk-Run fundraising events (previously known as Partnership Walks) in Houston and Dallas. His birthday journey takes that support to a new level.
A Journey for a Cause
Growing up in Pakistan, Rasheed saw firsthand how poverty affected people and how the Aga Khan Foundation’s programs internationally helped to change that picture and improve quality of life. He also saw how poverty can impact lives here in the U.S. during his walk on Route 66. “I saw a lot of poverty along the way,” he said.
So Rasheed is highlighting the importance of breaking the poverty cycle and the role that the values of charity and philanthropy play in people’s lives. In Islam, he said, a core value is giving to help those who are less fortunate improve their lives. Another is maintaining balance between the spiritual and physical realms. Both are tenets frequently mentioned by the Aga Khan in his commentaries.
To donate to the Aga Khan Foundation and honor Rasheed’s journey, please click here.
During his walk this summer, Rasheed will speak with interested groups along the way. In addition to bringing attention to the Foundation’s work alleviating poverty, he plans to highlight the idea that you can create your own adventure at any age. He’s scheduled to start his 64-day journey on August 14, 2018.
The second leg of his journey is planned for early 2019 along the Pacific Coast, from Mexican border to Canadian border, to culminate on his 65th birthday in April. Stay tuned as we hope to catch up with Rasheed early next year.
Updated August 17, 2018: The details of Rasheed’s walk have changed. Read more over on his blog, Ageless Adventurers.
This post is part of the #humansoftheworld series on our blog—a collection of tales we can both relate to and marvel at. Here, we share stories of appreciation, self-reliance, and strength from across the Aga Khan Development Network.