Hello. I am Rick Zinter and am planning to hike the A.T. (Appalachian Trail) starting on March 14, 2018. The A.T. stretches from Springer Mountain in Georgia, for 2,191 miles, to Mt. Katahdin in Maine. By sheer coincidence the first 4 letters of my destination are key to this adventure. I will be doing this hike as a fundraiser for the KATA foundation.
Let me start with some background about me, and why I am doing this hike. Hiking the AT made it onto my bucket list many years ago, and I think because it sounded like a pretty cool idea, was adventurous, and a real chance to get outside. It represents the antithesis of the sedentary lifestyle of working in an office and being tied to a desk. Over time it became more solid with plans to hike portions of the trail with my sons, Ricky and Kyle, my daughter in law, Sarah (married to Ricky), my wife, Silvia, my great nephew Ethan and possibly others. The plan was to do this when I retired at age 66.
Then 2 ½ years ago Ricky was killed in a river rafting trip in western Colorado. This event has had a profound impact on my life. Although there has been much grief and tears, I chose to focus on the positives of what Ricky taught me and what I know he would want me to be. I am responsible for my own happiness, and I choose to be happy.
The KATA part of the KATA foundation stands for Kendall And Taylor Atkinson. They were sister and brother, childhood friends of Sarah, and both died of Fanconi anemia, a rare genetic disease that leads to bone marrow failure and early onset cancer. Due to the rareness of this disease big pharmaceutical companies do not fund research. The KATA foundation was started by Kendall and Taylor’s parents, Dr. Ken and Jeanne Atkinson, to research a cure for this disease.
In 2016, Ken Atkinson responded to a shooting in his Denver, CO neighborhood to provide medical assistance to a woman who had been shot. The gunman turned on Ken and shot and killed him. I cannot comprehend the grief that this family has endured. Sarah and Ricky were extremely involved in the KATA foundation and volunteered their time and money to support it. I want to continue their work.
Therefore, I will use my hike as a fundraiser to support the KATA foundation. This will allow me to carry on some of the work previously done by Ricky.
Also, about a year ago I saw a posting on Facebook by a friend of mine from high school, Werner. He was going for a walk in the woods in the Spring on 2018. Since I had already decided to retire one year earlier, at 65, the timing was perfect. Now we will start our hike together, and God willing, complete it together. In reality, I am not really sure how far I will be able to go, or what possible injury could knock me off the trail. I do know I will look for the positives in each moment and go as far as possible.
If you choose to support my fundraiser, please click to donate. Any amount would be appreciated.
Stay tuned for further updates preparing for, and taking the hike, at … www.trailjournals.com/RickZ