By GINNY BIXBY, Daily Progress
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — When Charlottesville’s Kim Grover decided to hike the Appalachian Trail, she knew she wanted to hike for more than just herself.
“I’ve known for a while how lucky I feel to be able to jump in a hot shower and come home to where it’s warm when it’s raining outside, when some people just don’t have that option,” said said Grover.
Grover set out Friday on the Appalachian Trail for a six-month mission to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville and The Haven, a shelter to end homelessness in downtown Charlottesville.
“It’s a housing issue. The Haven does its best to help people who are in a homeless state and get them into houses and what kind of resources they can get. Habitat for Humanity is getting people into beneficial ownership and in Charlottesville that’s a hard thing to do,” Grover said.
Grover asks people to pledge as little as a penny or nickel for each mile of the roughly 2,193-mile trip. Although Grover doesn’t have a fundraising goal, she said she would like to raise at least $10,000 and thinks it’s easily achievable based on the pledges she’s already received.
While she walks outside so others can live inside, there’s also something about Grover’s long walk. Ever since she was little, she has dreamed of hiking the Appalachian Trail.
“When I was little, we had a coffee table book on the Appalachian Trail and we looked at the pictures. We did a lot of camping when I was a kid and we always loved being outdoors,” she recalls.
“A few years ago a friend of mine hiked the trail. And I realized that real people were doing it. It never struck me that I could actually plan and go on my own until someone I knew did. So that’s what I did,” she said.
Grover decided the time was right to make the trip since his children were graduating from high school and college. She said her children and her husband were very supportive of her trip.
“I went through a phase where I was like, ‘What am I doing? I can’t go, it’s crazy. I won’t be home, I love my bed. But I am definitely getting more and more excited about it and I love waking up outside. I love being outside,” Grover said. “I think it’s going to be really exciting to meet the whole group of people who have chosen to walk the trail this year.”
Grover started the hike at Amicalola Falls, Georgia, eight miles south of the trail’s southern terminus at Springer Mountain, Georgia. The journey will take her back through parts of central Virginia, including McAfee Knob, and she will finish the course at Mount Katahdin, Maine.
Grover is an experienced hiker, but preparing for the six-month trip required her to do a lot of research and carefully plan her packing and where she will stop for breaks. Although it has been a bit daunting, her love of the outdoors and passion for fundraising is what she knows will keep her going.
“Fundraising for Habitat and The Haven is a great motivator. And on some level, I knew that I could go out really well and it might get a little tough, I would hang up, but if other people are depending on me, I won’t,” Grover said. .
Pledges can be made by visiting tinyurl.com/2yxjjn6t. Grover plans to post updates on his trip to his Instagram page @hiking_for_homes_apptrail22.
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