BOONE, N.C. — A local student is being lauded as a hero after successfully walking almost one mile to an off-campus polling station to vote in Tuesday’s election.
Brian Coburn, a senior history major at Appalachian State University, spent weeks planning the trek, even registering to vote as early as September of this year.
“This is something I’d dreamed of doing for a long time,” an exhausted Coburn said in a press conference before returning home to play PS4 game “Lords of the Fallen.”
The odyssey was particularly difficult for Coburn because unlike many of his peers, he is taking a full load of courses, and he also works part-time at Grounds, a local coffee shop. On top of that, just hours before embarking on the trip, he suffered a devastating setback when he discovered his bike tire was flat.
“I said to myself, I’m going to do this, so I put on my old hiking boots and I walked,” he said.
The journey to the courthouse in downtown Boone took him nearly 20 minutes to complete, and along the way he had to contend with seeing friends who were on their way to lunch. To make matters worse, snow began to fall, and when he got to the polling station, dozens of people were lined up in front of him. He would have to wait, but for how long?
Coburn remained determined, a trait he says he inherited from his father, who used to spend up to an hour every single day driving to and from his accounting firm in the neighboring city of Lenoir.
During the final moments of the adventure, he almost gave up when he looked at the ballot and realized with horror he didn’t know what to do. Fortunately, a sage and experienced volunteer was present to give him a much-needed bit of encouragement.
When asked what his friends and family thought of his dream, Coburn said he was surprised at the support he received.
“One of my roommates was like, ‘Oh, you’re never going to succeed because you don’t even know where to go to vote,’” he said. “But everyone else around me was totally supportive, and they were, like, really proud of me.”
Boone’s mayor Randy Hall announced he will be awarding Coburn a medal for civic excellence, and several writers for the university’s student-run newspaper are calling for a new dorm to be named after him. Despite the praise, the student-hero Brian Coburn seems unaffected.
“I really believe anyone can do what I did,” he said. “Just never give up.”