I'm Dave, a 28 year old Midwestern boy, now living in California. I'm a former wilderness survival instructor, and avid outdoorsman. I also am a man born with a condition called VATER Syndrome.
Without going into too much gory and/or overpersonal information, I will just say that this is an extremely rare, and highly life threatening set of serious birth defects. It is so serious that a third of all babies born with VATERS die as newborns.
In fact, I have a hard time finding medical texts that can give information on the status of VATERS patients my age, simply because anyone my age or older with VATERS is dead.
Anyways, I'll smack myself into getting to the point... that's better.
I hiked part of the AT when I was working with a wilderness camp for juvenile offenders in New Jersey, back in 1997. I fell in love with the trail, and began to read about its history and this magical thing known as "thru-hiking." I was 19.
I am now about to turn 29 in two months, and have yet to do the Springer to Katahdin path. I have to do it soon. I've always wanted to do the hike before I was 30, but that isn't going to happen. I am going to do it as a 30 year old, however. For, it is now or never.
My body is falling apart. The heart condition I was born with is getting wors. My liver is going to fail within the next 5 years or so. Last but not least, my vision is rapidly going to hell, and will likely leave me virtually blind within 3-5 years.
So, the time is short to do this adventure. I'm planning for my long awaited thru-hike in 2008. I'm also considering making it some sort of fundraiser to gather money for VATERS research.
I need any advice on thru-hiking, any insights, input, in-dpeth analyses, as well as anything that would help me figure out how to make it all into a fundraising hike. I've never been one for causes, and spent most of my life bitterly resenting anyone who used their own personal issues to draw attention to themselves or anything as loathsome as disabilities.
Now, I'm eating my words, and a huge slice of humble pie. I'm also asking for any help - which is something I NEVER do.
So, anyone got anything to say?