I tried to convince myself that I would not cry during my last few steps to the Mexican border, and thus completing my goal of 817 miles on the Arizona Trail. But even after all my meandering through desert, forests, and mountains, lack of uninterrupted sleep and my minimally acceptable hygiene conditions during those last two and a half months I was not hardened to the overwhelming floodgate of tears that swept over me.
I have admitted that I undertook this endeavor in a naïve fashion. I had a purpose in mind and didn’t truly consider the many obstacles that one might face: dropping out of hikers, injuries, maladies, and even getting lost to name only a few. My purpose was to inspire others and create a national awareness to a disease that I, like hundreds of others, had been diagnosed with. It was my intent to bring national awareness that could impact many lives around the world and, so even my reach was just as ambitious as an 817 mile hike.
Recently I have been asked about the highlight of my hike. I can truly say that there wasn’t any one point that was any more special than any other. The highlights were not necessarily due to my experiences on the trail. Many were due to my interactions with those who opened up their hearts, homes, and selves to us.
Those days when I was privy to walk for an individual with MS were also special times. They were reminders of how we sometimes stumble due to physical impairments and have to find the strength to pick ourselves up each time.
I learned lessons of strength, commitment, and patience as I approached the challenges of each day.
I am thankful to family and friends who supported this hike, and to the MSAA for helping us with our fundraising efforts.
Most of all, I am grateful to all of those who believed that this hike could encourage and inspire those of us who suffer from multiple sclerosis. I thank you for giving me the chance to make a difference.
Seasons Greetings. May this Holiday Season bring blessings and health to all!
Editor’s Note: To see pictures and read all of Shawn’s entries from the trail, please visit her website http://hiking4ms.org/