The Pacific Crest Trail is a 2,600-mile path running from the U.S./Mexican border in California to the U.S./Canadian border in Washington state.
A through hike of its entirety is a daunting task – but one Eric Montgomery was happy to take on, as each step of his journey shared a greater purpose.
“When I was planning my hike, I had seen on hiker journals and what not that other people had joined their hike with a fundraising for a cause and this was the first one that came to mind to me,” said Eric.
The Swifty Foundation was founded by Mikey Gustafson shortly before pediatric brain cancer took his life when he was 15 years old.
Swifty was a natural fit for Eric – he’s a longtime friend of Mikey’s brother Ian, he got a degree in neuroscience, and is headed to med school to join the fight against brain diseases.
“When I heard about Eric hiking the Pacific Crest Trail I think my jaw hit the floor,” said Swifty Board Member Kira Couch. “I’ve never heard of such a selfless act for a cause greater than someone’s own self.”
The foundation partnered with three other organizations and started the Four Pennies Campaign, a goal to raise four pennies for each one of Eric’s 4.6 million footsteps on the challenging hike.
When explaining the later stages of his hike, Eric said, “I’d try to get 14, 15 hours in. My legs and feet had adapted to that kind of strenuousness. I was usually able to hike 35-40 miles and one day I topped out at 47-48 miles.”
Along the way, he shared his journey on social media and answered questions from the trail.
“I’ve gone up some super cool mountains and met all sorts of interesting people. I’m currently hiking with somebody from Italy and somebody from Germany,” he explained in one of those Q&A videos.
Eric was only home from his hike for a couple of days before heading to med school. His hike for hope has raised over $120,000 to fight childhood brain cancer.
“I just feel honored to have the stars align like that,” he said.
Though Eric has finished his hike, the Four Pennies Campaign is still trying to reach their $185,000 goal, if you want to help you can donate at fourpennies.org.
Naperville News 17’s Blane Erwin reports.
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