On this International Women's Day, we are honored to support 2023 Missions to help forge a gender equal world. Celebrating women's achievements and increasing visibility, while calling out inequality, is key. One of these missions, to forge women’s empowerment worldwide, struck our hearts. We strove to be ‘empowered women, empowering women,’ encouraging women to not only be active, but to also support causes and empower others. Let’s do this!
- 154 days on the Appalachian Trail
- 2,194.3 miles
- 14 states
- 14.25 average miles/day
- Five and a half months away from home
- Three hurricanes
- One case of COVID
- One root canal
- Nine stitches
- 10 staples
- Two ER visits
- One helmet
- 16 times up & down Mt. Everest’s elevation
- Two 35-pound packs
- 40+ “trail angels”
- 94 YouTube videos
- 707 donors
- $83,000 and counting in donations for Parkinson’s disease research.
By the numbers, our thru hike of the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia to raise funds for Parkinson’s disease research is impressive. It’s a journey less than 22,000 people, and less than 750 over the age of 60, have ever completed. But this seemingly impossible mission to help find a cure in honor of our husband and dad, Ron Otten, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2010 at age 51, didn’t deter us from accomplishing the adventure of a lifetime.
Not only were we successful in achieving our goal to complete the trail, but we also blew past our initial fundraising goal of $50,000 for Team Fox, The Michael J. Fox Foundation’s grassroots fundraising program. We also documented our journey with 94 YouTube videos, numerous Instagram and Facebook posts, were featured in six segments on our local TV news, a local paper, twice on CBS national news and in a presentation for a local inter-faith organization and are soon to be featured as a “Real People Story” for AARP.
This exposure helped to drive awareness for Parkinson’s while increasing donations and generating support from “trail angels,” strangers who provided acts of kindness with home cooked meals, warm dry beds, laundry, hot showers and rides to/from the trail. We heard the saying, ‘if you want to restore your faith in humanity, go hike the Appalachian Trail.’ We were incredibly blown away by the support we received on the trail (we called it a ‘beautiful mystery’); quitting was never an option, even when it got hard. Going the distance for a cure, the amazing kindness of the Trail community and the support of our family was what motivated us every step of the way!