Inspired by my mother, Theresa, and by her strength and the wonderful person that she is, even as she battles Alzheimer’s disease, I am hiking the entire 2190 miles of the Appalachian Trail (AT).
In 1968, while on a family vacation in Baxter State Park, Maine, my mother made an off-hand comment that she’d like to walk the Appalachian Trail (AT) someday. A sign describing this iconic footpath from Maine to Georgia is what prompted this comment. I don’t remember much more about that part of the trail, and mom never did hike the AT, but that comment has stuck with me for 50 years.
Inspired by my mother, Theresa, and by her strength and the wonderful person that she is, even as she battles Alzheimer’s disease, I am hiking the entire 2190 miles of the AT. I stepped off onto the trail February 28, 2018 in my own Walk to End Alzheimer’s. As anyone who knows or has known someone with this disease can attest to, Alzheimer’s not only affects the individual, but also has a tremendous impact on their family, friends, caregivers, and others. Although Alzheimer’s has ensured that mom can no longer join me in this endeavor, she has a map of the AT on her wall and family keep her updated on my progress. I hope that visiting her will be my final destination on this adventure.
My goals, along with those of my supportive wife and family, are two-fold. First, of course, is the completion of the entire AT, from Georgia to Maine. The second, and I feel is the most important goal, is to raise awareness of and funding for more research and education into this devastating disease. My generation, the ‘boomers’, have now entered into the high-risk age for Alzheimer’s disease. It is time to discover the causes, develop effective management strategies, and to eventually find a cure, now!
I have met so many wonderful and interesting people on this journey so far and everyone has their own reason for the hike. If we have the chance, I tell them about my reason and hope that one step at a time, I can make a difference.
I have the goal to hike all 2190 miles of the AT, but I have not even contemplated a fundraising goal. To date I have walked over 400 miles since I started and raised over $3600 for the Alzheimer’s Association. I am amazed and truly humbled by the generosity of the people that have supported my goal of raising funds for this disease. I am asking for donations of at least a penny per mile of the AT (that’s just $21.90). It’s not much, but if lots of people join in, we can make a huge difference.
Come walk with me, physically or virtually, by visiting the Facebook page Art Donovan on the Appalachian Trail or through our tribute page on the Alzheimer’s Association website: act.alz.org/goto/ALZontheAT. We welcome and appreciate your support. If you would like to hike a part of the AT with me, please send me a message through the Facebook page and we will try to arrange it.
Art Donovan, aka ‘CraftE’