Jake Thomas and Chris Danzer prepare for a journey to bring awareness to hunger in Santa Cruz.

When most people see a problem, what do they do? Volunteer a few hours of their time? Donate a couple hundred bucks, or perhaps organize a silent auction? No disrespect—these are all great things to do, but it’s safe to say that in Santa Cruz County the gauntlet has officially been thrown.

Chris Danzer and Jake J. Thomas, two self-proclaimed “Hunger Warriors,” have set out to walk the entire 91-mile circumference of the county in an event they are calling “Not on Our Watch: An Epic Trek to End Childhood Hunger in Santa Cruz County.”

“It’s not part of the common perception of Santa Cruz County that there’s a lot of poverty or childhood hunger,” says Thomas, who holds a Ph.D. in Literature from UCSC. But according to Second Harvest Food Bank, one in four children in the county need food relief. Even more disturbing is the fact that the number has gone up from one in eight children 10 years ago.

With the hopes of raising enough awareness over the next few years to start a $1 million endowment fund dedicated to feeding all of the county’s hungry children, Danzer and Thomas will set out from Capitola just after midnight on Friday, March 1, and proceed to walk the roughly 36-hour trek without stopping to sleep.

As of yet, the longest training walk the men have completed is 46 miles, or about half the full course. But that has been enough to demonstrate the challenges of the undertaking. “The two biggest obstacles we have are pain and fear, and they go hand in hand,” says Thomas. “Our training has taught us that we will get walls of pain. That our feet are going to hurt, our joints are going to hurt, and at some point the pain will be overwhelming. That creates a lot of fear.

“We’ve also learned the importance of hydration and nutrition, which of course goes back into the idea of this being about hunger in the first place,” he says.

Danzer and Thomas will be hosting a launch party at Santa Cruz Boardroom in Capitola from 7-10pm on Friday, March 1.