Jun 202014

Today, I began the second half of my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail as part of The Longest Day, an event to fight Alzheimer’s. A thru-hike is a long-distance journey from trail beginning to end. I am dedicating this hike to my mother, Debbie, who at the age of 52, was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s.

My mother is the most caring, loving, kind-hearted, independent woman who has ever graced this earth. From the moment I was born she has encouraged me to always fight for my dreams, regardless of the trials I may encounter. This has been burned on my heart, and I have carried that with me every day.

My dream of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail began back in 2009. I roped my best friend into joining me. The journey was to begin after our college graduation.  Little didnancy harrington and mother I know, the next year my mother would be diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s at age 52 — and everything would change.

We began our hike in April 2013, but 850 miles in, I noticed my mother’s Alzheimer’s was making her fade quicker than when I had left. The pain in my father’s voice was more evident. In late June, I pulled off of the trail. I could not justify missing a few more good months with her. Since then, my mother has progressed quite rapidly. The pain this disease has caused my mother and her loved ones is unbearable, and it is a pain felt by more than 5 million Americans who also are living with this disease.

For four years, I have fought alongside my father and brothers to make my mother’s life as comfortable as possible. No longer can I sit back and watch this disease hurt more people. This is why today, I continue to hike and extend my fight further. I want to raise money to change the future of this disease.

Researchers have set the goal of finding a cure for this wretched disease by 2025. It is a lofty goal, but one that can be obtained if we all join together.

So far, I have raised $Nancy harrington 25,969 for the Alzheimer’s Association. This fundraiser has been a huge support group for my family and me. By simply telling people my mother’s story, they have immediately wanted to g ive what they could to the cause, and also spread the word. Some donations have been small, a couple of dollars. Others have been larger, and even entailed sports teams joining together to raise thousands of dollars. To me, this is the most beautiful thing. Knowing how much support is out there has helped me immensely in coping with my mother’s condition.

Today, I am asking everyone to join me in honoring my mother and her legacy as I walk toward Mt. Katahdin. I will be in motion throughout The Longest Day, keeping hope for a future where fewer families feel the pain of this disease.

About the Author: Nancy Harringon just completed an internship at the Sierra Outdoor School. Today, she is participating in The Longest Day®, a sunrise to sunset event to honor the strength, passion and endurance of those facing Alzheimer’s.

  4 Responses to “Today I Trek the Appalachian Trail to Fight Alzheimer’s”

  1. As I read your blog tears well up in my eyes. Having lost my mother in Feb. to this terrible disease, I feel your pain. I will be with you on your journey today in thought and prayer. Yes, enjoy and cherish every day to the fullest.

  2. What a beautiful way to honor your mom and to help others. My family was touched by this terrible disease and I thank you for doing this for all of the families who have watched their loved ones suffer from Alzheimer’s. May your travels be safe today. I am sure your mom is watching over you.

  3. I too will also join in with what Lori and Shannon have said in their post. It is a complicated story for me. It all started out with my paternal grandmother when the community knew less than we know today. This I believe was in the 1980s. After passing who knew that two paternal aunts would contract this devistating disease. Not only this but I also had an uncle in which one of my two aunts mentioned early also contracted Alzheimer’s. Now it is my father who is slowly going down this road. 10 years before today, my mother along with their primary care physician had my father tested and the results did show he eventually would get worse. The one good thing with him is that he immediately started taking Aracept and Naminda along with vitamins to help slow down the progession. Now that everything has been done, my mother is noticing with little things i.e. setting the table to eat, knowing where to go where and how to get somewhere when driving, where to put things away in the cupboard etc. I now have moved up and am living near them to help my mother out whenever I can. Just one final comment here, is this disease hereditary?

  4. Hi Nancy! Thanks for sharing this happiness with us. Your fight with Alzheimer's will be very helpful, I believe. I also have a blog and writing about Alzheimer. Thanks.

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