On May 4th, 2020, in Beaufort, South Carolina, a husband and wife team comprised of Bernie and April Hester begin the journey of a lifetime as they embark on a 2,200-mile hike on the Appalachian Trail to raise awareness for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Traversing over mountains, trails, cities, and roadways April, who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS), is hoping that her efforts dubbed the “Finish MS Hike” will bring much-needed awareness to multiple sclerosis and can help and inspire others afflicted with this incurable disease.
It’s important to note that April is not alone. Hers is just one of the approximately 400 new cases of multiple sclerosis diagnosed each week, contributing to the more than 1,000,000 people in the United States living with this disabling neurological condition. While most individuals are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40, multiple sclerosis can be developed at any age.
Over the past 2 years, the couple has thru-hiked the 500-mile Palmetto Trail in South Carolina three times and the rugged remote 77-mile Foothills Trail traversing the South Carolina mountains twice to prepare for this upcoming hike.
According to Suzette Anderson of the Palmetto Conservation Foundation (PCF), although thousands of individuals hike the Palmetto Trail each year, very few attempts to thru-hike the trail. This valiant effort combined with the debilitating physical effects of multiple sclerosis is a few reasons why April and her husband Bernie have been 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,” stated Natalie Cappuccio Britt, Former Executive Director for PCF. “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.”
For those interested, the couple is encouraging others to follow along with them on their adventure. They have established a trail journal that they will be posting throughout the hike as well on Instagram @Mule_Inchworm and a map showing their location. All this will allow you to follow their progress, send them encouraging messages, read about their journey and gain insight as they face and conquer challenges. In fact, the couple has already begun providing entries to keep their audience informed.
“While hiking 2,200 miles would be a challenge for anyone, April will face many physical challenges 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 Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Trails and Organizations for Multiple Sclerosis:
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Learn more: www.nationalMSsociety.org.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Learn more: www.appalachiantrail.org/.
The Palmetto Conservation Foundation
Learn more: www.palmettoconservation.org