For many Americans, this never-ending cold (and it’s extreme cold) was particularly difficult. But there’s one group that undoubtedly felt it the most: The homeless.
But as one compassionate teen says, “We all live on this planet together.”
These wise words are from Minnesota high schooler Rudy Hummel, who recently completed his mission of sleeping outside for a whole year, raising $6,000 for Western Lake Superior Habitat for Humanity and the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in the process.
The 17-year-old Boy Scout started his mission on June 7, 2013, steadfastly sleeping outside in 30 different places, including a tree platform, an ice hut, a hotel deck and tents, according to Inforum.
In his hometown of Hermantown, temperatures dropped to 27 degrees below zero this year, making it the second-coldest and the third-snowiest winter on record. Rudy braved 76 nights of this bone-chilling weather.
Not that he was completely alone in his time outdoors. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, on a single night in January 2013, 610,042 Americans were experiencing homelessness.
“I thought about what’s important to me, like the outdoors. I also thought about how many people have to sleep outside all the time, without sleeping bags or warm clothing,” he wrote on his website Snore Outdoors. “Caring for people is important, and so is caring for the environment that sustains us.”
Rudy’s commitment certainly inspired others. “It helped to energize us in our work,” Daryl Yankee, the executive director of Western Lake Superior Habitat for Humanity, told the Duluth News Tribune.
Yankee added, “It didn’t take him long to start thinking about his experience as it relates to other people and how they don’t always have a choice.”
And despite this year’s polar vortex, the young man remains dedicated and is up for another challenge.
“What a unique and incredible journey,” he wrote on his final blog post. “I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.”