Macon man completes 2,178-mile journey to raise money for Methodist Home
Four months. 2,178.3 miles. 14 states. Two bouts of poison ivy. 18 bears. 4 moose. 27 straight days of rain. Only 26 years old.
Macon native David Green, Jr., 26, and a member of Vineville United Methodist Church, arrived at Mount Katahdin in Maine, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, on Sunday, August 16, after a grueling 125 days spent hiking the 2,178.3 mile-long Appalachian Trail in an effort to raise money and awareness for The Methodist Home for Children and Youth in Macon.
This is his third adventure to raise funds for The Methodist Home, and his toughest yet, Green said. It was his first foray into long-distance hiking, having only hiked once – for 24 miles during two days – before starting on his Appalachian Trail hike.
In 2002, the summer he graduated high school from Stratford Academy in Macon, Green bicycled 4,500 miles across America from Seattle to Savannah with a family friend. In 2004, Green and a college friend biked 2,600 miles through the mountains of western Europe on a trip from Austria to Spain.
In those two rides, he raised approximately $80,000 for The Methodist Home, said Derek McAleer, vice president for development for The Methodist Home for Children and Youth. Green has the potential to raise $100,000 for the home before his 30th birthday, he said. As of September 3, The Methodist Home had received gifts and pledges for Green’s Appalachian Trial hike totaling $12,900.
“David is our youngest major philanthropist,” McAleer said. “He’s also shown that it’s possible for anybody to help our children. Everybody ought to be able to give to the Home; some can give financially, some can give by volunteering. We believe that everyone can give and be involved in the healing of children, it’s just a matter of finding the intersection of what you’re able to do and what the need is.”
Green, who was inducted into The Methodist Home’s “Heroes, Saints, and Legends” hall (their version of a “Hall of Fame”) on August 30, said that his motivation for raising funds for The Methodist Home is simple. He is blessed and fortunate, and wants to give back to others.
“I’m really blessed and fortunate to have two great parents who allow me to do what I do, and these kids don’t have those opportunities,” Green said. “But they do at The Methodist Home, and I just wanted to do what I can to help. I feel that being so blessed and fortunate we should give back to those who don’t have as much. I want to help give them the best opportunities that they can have.”
Green said that his faith grew while hiking the Appalachian Trail. On the days when he would go to sleep wet, wake up wet, and hike wet – the days when he was miserable and at his lowest – he would turn to God in prayer and it was then, he said, that God picked him up and carried him and helped him finish the day. The only item Green, an ultra-light hiker who carried just food, essential gear and water, took that wasn’t purely functional was his Bible, but Green said it was well worth its weight.
“It was definitely a pilgrimage of sorts,” Green said. “Being outside, among God’s creation, is truly amazing. Being on the trail and the things that happened to me, people would think was just coincidence, but I believed it was God working.”
Green hiked approximately 25 miles per day through “the green tunnel,” with his longest hike being a 23-hour, 51-mile trek through the rain while battling a bad case of poison ivy. Only about 20% of the hikers who begin hiking the Appalachian Trail and intend to hike it in its entirety, from Georgia to Maine, ever do, Green said; the other 80% quit before making the entire journey.
“I would have quit if I was just doing it for myself,” he said. “There were times when it was really hard, but knowing I was doing it for something other than myself, for a cause, it kept me going.” Green said he carried a small stuffed bear, from The Methodist Home, to remind him of his cause and to share with others the mission of The Methodist Home.
Green began his hike alone when his parents dropped him off at Springer Mountain, in North Georgia, but quickly met friends along the way. During his 14-state journey, he hiked on and off with Blue Sky, Buckeye and Smiling Bandit. Green’s trail name was GreenLite, which is a combination of his last name and his light packing.
One of the most memorable moments of his hike came while participating in a three-day trail rerouting program called Hard Core. After working with 120 other hikers to reroute a 50-year-old section of the trail that was experiencing significant erosion problems, Green was able to paint a new, original blaze on a tree. Of the approximately 40,000 blazes, or navigation markers, on the Appalachian Trail, most are original, and very rarely are new blazes ever painted.
Along with his faith, Green credits the helpfulness of strangers with helping him make it through his journey.
“I really met a lot of great people along the way, on the trail and in towns,” he said. “It’s tough being in society and hearing the negative about people, but the generosity I encountered was amazing. Without the help I encountered I couldn’t have finished.”
Now that he’s completed this adventure, what’s next for Green, a University of South Carolina graduate with double majors in international business and accounting? He’s heading to Denver this month, with plans to start work with PricewaterhouseCoopers on October 5. He said that he eventually plans to move back to Georgia, but for now, wants to continue experiencing the United States – and helping the children of The Methodist Home.
To join David Green, Jr. in supporting The Methodist Home for Children and Youth, go to www.themethodisthome.org/davidgreen.html
--By Kara Witherow, South Georgia Advocate
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