When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, 28-year-old Aiden Ardine and his 27-year-old brother, Louis were bartending at Bond Street Bar and Grill in Asbury Park.

Like many employees in the restaurant and bar industry, they were laid off during the pandemic. After moving back home with their family to save some money due to loss of income, they decided they wanted to do something to help others in a similar situation.

"Maybe we could use this personal challenge to help others and raise money," Aiden said.

In December, they teamed up with the nonprofit Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation, which helps restaurant workers impacted by the pandemic.

Then in May, the brothers from Red Bank set off on their cross-country walking journey. It's July and they are currently in Omaha, Nebraska, having raised $30,000 so far. They hope to raise $30,000 more.

The plan is to walk 3,000 miles across 11 states. Louis said they hope to reach San Francisco, California by Oct 1. While the weather has been a huge challenge, they say this journey has been a mostly positive experience.

"We've been stopping and having conversations. It's not just telling people what we're doing but people talking to us about their lives and sharing with us. It's been an extremely gratifying and humbling experience," Aiden Ardine said.

The restaurant industry was hit hard by the pandemic with lost income and lost jobs. Hundreds of thousands of restaurants and bars in America closed, either temporarily or permanently. Louis Ardine said the next time people are out to dinner or having drinks with friends, remember the servers. They've been through some hard times.

"Lift them up. Tip your servers. Tip your bartenders. Be patient. Everybody is short-staffed right now. A lot of things are uncertain and they're changing. We want to make sure that we can make it through this pandemic and we want to pick each other up. Be kind. That's what we're all about, is kindness," Louis said.

For those interested in tracking the brothers' journey in their walk to give back or to make a donation to their cause, check out their Instagram @ardinesxamerica or on their website at www.unmutedstories.org/walking-america

The brothers said they post a lot of stories from the people they meet and the restaurants they visit. They invite people to direct message them because it just brightens up their day.

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