Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hike for Hope

It’s increasingly evident to me that the experience of surviving cancer drives people to extremes. I mean that as a compliment, of course.

Four years ago, Albany, OR-native Ryan Krabill underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments at Georgetown University after being diagnosed with a rare type of tongue cancer. He survived, and later decided to do something special for cancer research.

So he went for a walk in the woods. A very long walk, as it turns out. Ryan, 31, spent four and a half months hiking the 2658 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail as a fundraiser for Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong Foundation, finishing just days ago. He carried a Blackberry on which he wrote daily entries that were posted when he was able. See his “Hike for Hope” blog.

I raised almost $10,000 this year with my marathon fundraiser, but Ryan did even better, exceeding the $11,000 mark. I guess you could say he went the extra mile—more precisely, about a hundred times the distance I covered a week ago Sunday.

There’s something about stories of people who survive cancer that touches the heart. Channeling a really bad experience into something good is an act of hope and faith; the challenge is in deciding how to do it. Ryan found a personally satisfying way to enrich his life while helping others, and I commend him for that.

Perhaps next year I’ll hike the PCT and leave the running to Ryan.

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