More than 40 hikers scrambled to the summit of the highest mountain in the northeastern U.S. en route to eliminating the stigma of mental illness and raising more than $12,000.
Hikers from as far away as South Carolina, Michigan, and California met at the base of Mt. Washington at 7 AM on the beautiful August morning for a group photo before beginning the 10+ mile round-trip.
The speediest among our group reached the summit by mid-morning while those taking a more leisurely pace arrived in mid-afternoon.
Since a major purpose of the hike is to raise awareness about the stigma of mental illness, a few among our group decided to ensure they would be noticed on the trail. Wendy hiked in a purple tutu, while Tom, Eric, James and Ryan sported stunning dresses that are sure to become the in-demand fashion at next year’s Oscars. Or maybe not. But they certainly did get noticed, which provided many opportunities to talk about our organization and why we hike.
The rest of us were content to show our HIKE for Mental Health orange on the trail, wearing and waving our bandanas, which many clipped to their packs using personalized HIKE for Mental Health carabiners generously donated by 4imprint.com.
Again this year, the weather cooperated, draping the mountain in clouds and mist that would part long enough to provide stunning views, only to close ranks again moments later and again shroud the mountain in mystery.
At the end of the day, everyone made it safely up and down the mountain, making new friends, creating memories for a lifetime and setting a new fundraising mark of more than $12,000.
All of the money raised will go to our mission causes. Eighty percent funds research grants to alleviate suffering from mental illness, and the remainder will be disbursed to non-profit trail maintenance organizations that care for the trails on which we hike, including the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail.
There are so many people to thank for the success of this hike. Of course, the hikers themselves, who not only made time for the event but also spread the word to friends and family ahead of hike to help raise sponsorships and donations.
So of course we also the sponsors who contributed to the fundraising effort and gave emotional support to all the hikers. Without your support, there would be no HIKE for Mental Health. Thank you!
A special shout-out goes to Laurie Lawrence and her entire band of Claudette’s Climbers. Laurie has as much passion for eliminating the stigma of mental illness as anyone we know and has been a rock star in generating enthusiasm and participation in the hike from the first year. Every year, it is fantastic to meet more of her family and friends as her group grows. Thank you, Laurie, and thanks to every member of Claudette’s Climbers! See you again next year.
Thanks also to our volunteer photographers. Darlene King took the beautiful photos of the group at the start of the hike. You can see her work on Facebook at D. King Photography.
And Donna Chapman and Martin Hunley also had cameras in hand as they have for so many HIKE for Mental Health events. Thank you both for sharing your photographic talents with us.
The hikers with tired legs extend a special thank you to Dan Calcaterra, who volunteered to take the van to the summit and shuttle the trail-weary down the mountain. The ride down also provided amazing views from the other side of Mt. Washington, and the hair-raising ride on the edge of 1,000 drops made the height-sensitive ones vow to be in better shape next year so avoid the seeming near-death experience of the auto road! Dan, thanks for getting everyone down safe and sound.
We also thanks the staff of Rosa Flamingo’s and Munroe’s Family Restaurant in Bethlehem, NH, for hosting our NJ-to-NH van riders for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights. The food and the service was so terrific that on the ride home everyone was already talking about going back again next year.
Kudos also to the Twin Mountain KOA, where the van riders spent Friday and Saturday nights. Their immaculate, rustic cabins are a perfect spot for our group, and the all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast on Sunday morning is a big hit! Our evenings around the campfire will be long remembered.
And now time for a shameless plug – anyone in PA, NJ, NY, or CT who wants to get in on the NJ-to-NH van/cabin deal for next year’s hike, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can get you on the early sign-up list. No commitment at this point, but it will ensure you a spot. I will follow-up with you in the spring to confirm interest.
Finally, a huge thank you to Sue Twombley, who founded this hike in 2012 and had the vision to see it as an annual event. Each year, the hike becomes a bigger witness to the fight against the stigma of mental illness. Sue’s bravery in sharing her own struggles is a tremendous encouragement for others who battle mental illness and for the family members and friends who support them. Thank you, Sue, for inspiring us.