At 14 years old, I was confronted with a potential future as a cancer survivor and an amputee. I was playing baseball, running track, just growing up… Then my adolescence came to screaming halt. After a few weeks of pain after track practice, my parents finally took me to the doctor, which led to a diagnoses of bone cancer in my left tibia. A board of orthopedic surgeons reviewed my case and suggested aggressive action.
The fear surrounding a future of pain and limitation prompted my family to search and fortunately found a medical expert to see my case. The result, to our great relief, was that it was a staph infection in my bone and not cancer. The recovery and hospitalization that followed even a bone infection was not for the faint of heart. I recovered and eventually returned to play sports. I certainly was impacted deeply by experience. I know what painful surgery, long hospital stays, and a poor diagnoses is like. I know what it feels like to be scared, confused, and powerless as a child in an environment that was not as nurturing, healing and supportive as I thought it should be. That is why I dedicate my time and social media resources to this Maryland Trek.
I began the Maryland Trek as a solo journey across the state in 2014. It has grown into a team that I consider my extended family. I even met my wife Shannon during one trek and we got married on the beach the day after Trek 5 finish.
Now it is “our” event to benefit Just In Power Kids, the nonprofit we started together. We are developing a statewide network of holistic and integrated wellness providers, pairing them with kids during cancer treatment and up to 5 years post cancer treatment, then paying for their treatment. Most insurance companies do not cover the expense of palliative care and holistic modalities during cancer treatment and in the years after children are considered “no evidence of disease”. We want to fill that need.
This is my 6th year and it begins on August 4th. We start on the summit of Wisp and ending 329 miles later at the Inlet in Ocean City. I picked Maryland’s two largest playgrounds in honor of these kids with cancer who just want to be kids again and play. This is NO walk in the park. This is a fast paced hiking and biking combination everyday, to cross the state of Maryland from west to east in 7 days. There are big mountains, lots of water crossing, and bonds with people that will last a lifetime.
There are two legs each day, pun fully intended. Hike and Bike! That’s the deal. I transitioned from sprinting in high school to long distance running in my adulthood, but the trek hike is something more people can relate to. The biking portion represents the fun part childhood, plus it relieves tension in your legs using different muscles and shortens the time of the entire event. I wanted this event to challenge myself and others in a way to represent the challenges these kids face. During each day and throughout the week, we incorporate fun and plenty of support for our the journey in the healthiest way possible.
Each day will start with a 27 mile hike, averaging a little more than 4 miles per hour. The distance of 27 is just over a marathon and represents the years from the time when I was sick and struggling through my journey to my first trek. The bike part will be 14 miles (or more), for the age I was when I was improperly diagnosed. That period changed the course of my life and I want nothing more than for this trek to change the course of others lives.
Each day will be to honor one of our Power Kids. We will tell their story and carry their photo on our packs. We invite everyone in to their journey and we do that to encourage, empower and inspire everyone, including these kids to be a part of something bigger. We do it to show them they have impact on others, that they matter and they can have more control of their healing journey. I am walking proof that even a bad diagnoses is an outlook but not a promise. It is possible to defy the odds and heal.
We have assembled a team and have support from some great people. Shannon and I welcome more people to join the trek for the whole week, a single day, relay, or family day now featuring Kids Trek Too. We would love any support that people want to offer, no offer of support will be turned away. Together, in numbers, we can make a difference. We’d love to see you along the way.
Scroll down to sign up just to get on our list. You can the whole week, a few days, a single day, or with others as a team. We also welcome any interest in sponsoring this incredible one of a kind event.
This year in addition to our love tracking, we will include more video each day to make you feel like you are with us. If you drive by or stop to say hello, we can take a pic and post it using the hashtag #mdtrek6 to help document this lifetime journey on all social media platforms.
We know this trek can be one of our best yet and to have that happen it takes a collective desire to change the future of pediatric oncology. We so often get caught up in our daily happenings and are not present to the impact a small effort can have on so many. You matter and these kids matter.