In addition to thru hiking the entire 2185 mile length of the Appalachian Trail in one continuous venture, I also hope to achieve some other goals. One of those is to raise a significant amount of money for ALS research. People at the ALS Association are working diligently to provide for those afflicted with the disease as well as for family members of the stricken. They also contribute sums to ongoing research projects on a regular basis. The ALS clinic at Emory in Atlanta not only treats patients but also conducts studies in an effort to find a cure for the disease. Therefore, I have asked that all the money I raise be applied toward research in an effort to find a cure for ALS. Above all else, it’s my hope that a cure can be found and soon.
I also hope to raise awareness about ALS as I hike. Many today still do not know or understand the effects of the disease. I hope that we can all come to treat with compassion and respect those individuals who have been diagnosed with ALS. Because of this hike, I hope someone will be better prepared to deal with the illness if a family member, a friend, or that person himself becomes a victim. But foremost, I hope that a cure is found before any more diagnoses have to be made.
And finally, I hope to share my brother’s life, before and after ALS, with many. Just as I have written in the “Don Pages” on this web site, I hope to be able to speak to individuals and groups about his strong faith even in the face of a terminal illness. Don loved life, but he also knew of and expressed his belief in another life after this one. On many occasions Don stated, “I’m not afraid to die.” He knew that we are all transients on this planet. But he also knew where his soul was headed after he breathed his last breath on Earth. I hope that I’ll be able to share with others just how special my brother Don was. I hope all will come to appreciate and admire the way he lived his life.
Hope is a word that we sometimes use without really thinking. We might say, “I hope you have a great day” or “I hope it doesn’t rain this weekend.” Some regularly state, “I hope and pray” that this or that does or does not occur. We hope our careers succeed, we hope our children remain healthy and happy; we hope that our lives are meaningful. So as I embark on my journey north, I will hope daily. I will hope for health and safety; I will hope for cool breezes and sunny days; I will hope for beautiful vistas and wildlife sightings; and I will hope to spend many moments in quiet reflection with the memory of my brother. Yes, there are many things I will hope for as I set out on this long awaited journey along the Appalachian Trail.
May you be encouraged, uplifted, and full of God’s hope today, and may God use you to bring hope to those you meet on and off the Appalachian Trail. This blog is a beautiful tribute to your brother and your love for him. “But as for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more.” ~ Psalm 71:14