01/02/2002 AT 04:05 PM EST
Armed with backpacks and good intentions, college buddies Bill Faria, 22, and Josh Kampf, 23, began hiking from the Santa Monica Pier in California to New York's Ground Zero on New Year's Day in their efforts to memorialize the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The two, reports the Associated Press, intend to walk 3,500 miles and cross 15 states to arrive at their destination on Sept. 11, 2002, the first anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center. "In places far away from New York, there is not a lot people can do besides fly a flag. This is an opportunity for people to come out and walk with us for a couple miles . . . and to show the people of New York how deeply this touched us," Faria told the news service over a cell phone while walking in Los Angeles. The recent Johns Hopkins University graduates, who just quit their jobs in Boulder, Colo., (Faria at a biotech company, Kampf as a ski instructor) have on them about 4,000 small American flags, which they plan to distribute to families of attack victims once they arrive in New York. They will camp along their route, and friends are due to arrive en route with food and supplies. So far, they say, they've received some $10,000 in pledges to their newly formed nonprofit organization, Walk for America. The goal is to raise $30,000, with any additional money going to a scholarship fund for children of the attack victims, they said.