Yesterday morning, I had the privilege to present to the North Allegheny H.S. Interact Club about Owen's Odyssey. For anyone unfamiliar with Interact, it is the high school version of Rotary; it teaches students about leadership skills, working as a group, community service, enacting a project, fundraising, and networking.
During my presentation, I offered insight that any dream is attainable but one needs to plan, prepare, and pivot as needed. In my personal experience, when certain life circumstances are forced for a desired outcome, often that outcome isn't as great as intended. I framed this as divine intervention or karma. In my opinion, the best outcomes are through the doors opened before us.
Yes, sometimes certain dreams might be crushed and never realized but that doesn't mean that new dreams cannot come true.
The same goes for this project to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. My original plan was to do this over five months and make lots of stops and visits along the way, then COVID hit and everything has changed indefinitely. So I had to pivot. I decided to keep the project but go for speed. As I have shared with others, there is a practical AND metaphorical reason for a sub-100 day hike (complete a thru-hike within 100 days or less).
Practical Reason for a sub-100 day thru-hike: To mitigate transmission of COVID-19 and to save money. If the sun is up, I am walking. My goal is to accomplish 25 miles each day. If I am walking, I have less time to engage with strangers along the way. Also, nature has this funny disinterest in capitalism and currency. Too often, hikers go broke when they spend a lot of time in town.
Metaphorical Reason for a sub-100 day thru-hike: This is the story of polio eradication. We have a clear blueprint of what to do. Science and medicine has proven with the eradication of small pox that if everyone receives the vaccine the virus does not have its needed human host to survive, thus ensuring everyone's safety from the disease. Surely, challenges and obstacles will exist, whether extreme weather, fatigue, injury, boredom, COVID-19, or the Taliban. We know how to achieve our goal but need the fortitude to persevere. Rotary has made a promise to the world that we will see to the end of polio and together we will achieve this and more.
The students of North Allegheny were an excellent audience. I later received this beautiful art piece made by the students. They used adjectives that described me and my presentation to create a tree!
I think I'll take a copy of this with me on the trail to keep moral up when things get low.
Thank you for your ongoing support.
Remember that I have Owen's Odyssey Buffs for sale on the website. Proceeds go to polio eradication.
You can also donation to polio eradication directly at