April and Bernie Hester are busy planning their second 500-mile thru-hike of South Carolina’s Palmetto Trail, which they will begin on Oct. 1 to raise awareness for multiple sclerosis (MS) and funds for the National MS Society.
Thousands of people hike parts of the trail every year, but few do the entire 500-mile hike, said Suzette Anderson, of the Palmetto Conservation Foundation (PCF), an organization dedicated to conserving South Carolina’s natural and cultural resources.
The couple’s “Finish MS Hike” is the second time they’ll be hiking the full trail this year. In April they started hiking from the sea and 66 days later completed the trail in the mountains. This time they’ll start in the mountains and end at the sea.
“It was really just to see if we could do it, but as it went along we would say, man, we should have done it for a cause. After being home for a month we decided we were going back, this time from mountain to seas, and this time we wanted it to mean something more than to ourselves,” Bernie Hester wrote on an MS website about their reason for their second Palmetto Trail thru-hike of the year.
To read more, or to donate to the National MS Foundation in the Hesters’ name, visit: http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/OurPTAdventure.
The couple will traverse over mountains, on trails, through cities, and on roadways. April, who has MS, is hoping that her efforts will bring much-needed awareness to the condition and that the pair can reach their goal of raising $100,000 for MS research toward a cure.
Their effort, combined with the debilitating effects of MS, are among the reasons why April and Bernie Hester were recognized as trail ambassadors by the PCF.
“Bernie and April are an inspiration as they tackle a thru-hike while raising critical awareness for MS. Their personal story will inspire others facing life challenges and is a story of overcoming obstacles,” Natalie Cappuccio Britt, executive director for PCF, said in a press release.
“A thru-hike is always an incredible adventure and is no easy feat. We wish April and Bernie all the best as they take on this new adventure and encourage others to get outside and take a few steps with them for such an important cause,” she said.
The couple will post regular updates on their “Finish MS Hike” blog and Instagram account, to allow people to follow their adventures, read about their journey, and gain insight as they face and conquer challenges along the way. The couple has already written a few entries to keep their audience informed.
“While hiking 500 miles would be a challenge for anyone, April will face many physical challenges throughout because MS affects the central nervous system. To complete this will be such an accomplishment and without a doubt, shows the fighter in April and what an inspiration she is, especially to those living with MS,” said Carly Arnold, coordinator of fundraising support for the National MS Society.
“The fundraising efforts by April and Bernie are incredibly appreciated because every dollar raised will help accelerate breakthroughs that will change lives and end MS forever,” Arnold said. “Fundraising dollars go toward research for a cure, treatment, therapies, support and resources for those living with MS, and will help those living with MS live their best lives.”
The Palmetto is the longest trail and largest trail construction project in South Carolina. Today, the trail crosses the state from Walhalla in the mountains of Oconee County to Awendaw on the coast in Charleston County. Another 150 miles in the Midlands and Upstate remain to be acquired and constructed.
To help raise money to “Finish the Trail,” the PCF and RJ Rockers Brewing Company have combined their passions for trekking and craft beer to create Palmetto Trail Pale Ale. A portion of sales goes to support and finish the Palmetto Trail.
You can buy Palmetto Trail Pale Ale at any of the following locations: RJ Rockers Brewery, Craft and Draft, Texas Roadhouse, Thirsty Fellow, Flying Saucer, Capital City Club, Triangle Char+Bar, Bohemian Bull, Publico Kitchen & Tap.