Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Two brothers devote journey to dead mother

By Danielle D'Adamo
Associate Marketing Specialist for Student Affairs
University of Arizona News

What would you do if money wasn't an issue?

That was the little question that started it all. Brothers David and Mike Hrostoski asked dozens of people that simple question and the three most common responses were: volunteer, spend time with family and travel. So that is exactly what the Hrostoskis decided to do.

On June 4, 2011, the Hrostoskis lost their mother, Mie Sarah Hrostoski. On July 25, 2011, the two set off on a 4,100 mile roadtrip across North America.

"In order to celebrate her life, we decided to go on a three-week road trip across the country to spread her ashes," David Hrostoski said.

Together, the brothers drove 4,100 miles and spread their mother's ashes in 40 different locations, including their father's childhood home in Brentwood, N.Y. They even made a documentary about their summer travels.

"Growing up, my mom was very sick with chronic fatigue, but she always gave us more than we ever expected," David Hrostoski said. "Last year when she passed away so unexpectedly, we wanted to do something special in her honor. It was also a chance for my brother and I to get even closer."

David Hrostoski's older brother, Mike Hrostoski, is a University of Arizona alumnus and "full-time traveler." Last February, he sold all of his belongings and dedicated his life to traveling and life coaching and he also writes a blog, Adventures in Personal Development. David Hrostoski is currently a UA Honors College sophomore studying pre-business with a focus in entrepreneurship and marketing.

Together, the Hrostoskis journeyed across the country and proudly claim that they had zero arguments during the course of their trip.

"That trip was very healing and a lot of fun, but we wanted to do more," David Hrostoski explained. "One day my brother wrote a blog post with the title 'What would you do if money wasn't an issue?' and we decided to take the most popular responses to heart and make another trip out of it."

During the summer of 2012, the Hrostoskis dedicated three months to be in the service of others. They created a blog, A Summer to Serve, where they could document all of their travels and volunteer work as they honored the life of their mother.

Starting in New York – which David Hrostoski said was his favorite city in terms of meeting great people and networking – they offered a variety of volunteer services to many different organizations, ranging from strategic marketing to manual labor.

"We wanted to give people the chance to take advantage of our many passions and talents," David Hrostoski said. "We could offer advice on someone's website or work eight hours outside putting up dry wall. It didn't matter what the task was, we were just happy to help."

One of David Hrostoski's favorite organizations was the Youth Emergency Services and Shelter located in Des Moines, Iowa. The nonprofit provides emergency shelter, crisis care and counseling for children, and also serves as a safe space where parents can drop their children off when they need a break.

"It was amazing to see these kids open up and learn more about where they came from and why they were there," he said. "We took a small group horseback riding and bought them pizza, and that simple gesture meant the world to them."

At the end of their "Summer to Serve" trip, the Hrostoskis drove more than 12,000 miles across the United States, traveled through 29 states and stayed in 35 different cities. They met more than 200 people and helped make a difference in their lives.

So what's next for these two humanitarians?

"We want to complete our documentary by the end of the year and have more than 1,000 people watch it," David Hrostoski said. "From there, we'll just take it one step at a time." 

Photography courtesy of David and Mike Hrostoski

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