#LHX2017 is more than a backpacking adventure. It’s a campaign to support and spread the word about Gear Forward. Since I launched this project in August donors have come forward to give gear as well as financial support to equip the next generation with gear needed to enjoy the outdoors.
I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to check out the Gear Forward website for more details and stories from those who have received gear. You can help us make a difference in a kids life by donating your unused or new gear to Gear Forward. You can also contact us directly if you’re in Pennsylvania. We’ll make arrangements to pick up any gear you desire to donate. Or, if you’re organization is in need we’d be happy to meet with you, tell you more about Gear Forward, and find out your needs.
Each #LHX2017 team member has launched their own ideas for collecting gear as well as donations, and I can’t express enough their willingness and heart to give back. For me personally their attitudes and selfless motives are refreshing in a time when it seems our country is more divided, respect for others is a lost manner, and entitlement seems to be the norm. In addition to giving back and supporting Gear Forward each team member is making a huge commitment by participating, which requires time away from their families, the cost of getting here to Pennsylvania, and the physical commitment to backpack five days in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania. Their commitment and dedication to this project has left me humbled with gratitude.
As time went on, plans made, and logistics worked out (all of which are still happening) I have watched the outdoor community come together through donations as well as joining us in sharing on social media. I must confess, however, of moments of discouragement. I caught myself wishing and hoping for a bigger response. But, while out solo hiking last week with noting but my thoughts I realized something…to make an impact doesn’t require for it to be sudden and big. A large rock will make a big splash, but a small pebble will make ripples that will widen. I believe well after #LHX2017 is all over and our gear has been aired out and prepped for a new adventure, the ripples of what this project is about will continue all because of the outdoor community and your hearts to give back, make a difference, and see others get outside.
In three months the #LHX2017 team will converge here in Pennsylvania from the U.S. and Canada to backpack the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. The trip itself will be a time for us to connect in person, enjoy the outdoors, reflect on our involvement with Gear Forward over these past several months, and share stories of adventures past and maybe even adventures to come. I’m looking forward to those five days on the trail with everyone. I’m looking forward to non-stop talking around a campfire, moments of silence as we simply listen to our surroundings, vista views that remind us this world is much bigger then we are, and yes, even those moments when fatigue from hiking all day may cause some tension and frustration. I’m looking forward to all of it. For me, as the founder and director of #LHX2017, all those moments on the trail combined with the efforts of the outdoor community giving back to support Gear Forward will be the award.
So, yes, #LHX2017 is so much more then an adventure on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail. It’s a campaign. A service project to give back. It’s personal because when I founded Hike By Faith I founded it one simple principle. To inspire, connect and experience. I hope you will join me, and the team I have come to respect, as we adventure for five days in the Laurel Highlands the week of April 23rd to the 29th. If you haven’t connected with us on social media I encourage you to follow each of the team members via their social media. You can find each of them listed on the #LHX2017 page here on our website. For all of Hike By Faith’s social media simply go to our home page for all our links.
Also, take a moment to check out the #LHX2017 page for our sponsors and partners. Outdoor brands who have joined our team in various ways to support Gear Forward as well as offer support to the team while on the trail. My gratitude toward them will never seem to be enough. So, to help me express my gratitude, take a moment to check out each partner/sponsor and give them a HUGE shout out on social media for supporting Gear Forward and the #LHX2017 team.
Lastly, help me show my gratitude by checking out and supporting Gear Forward. The reason for this project we have put together. It’s the vision and heart of Scott Gauvin, Executive Director of Gear Forward, that I have come to stand behind and support. Would you please take a moment to reach out to Gear Forward and send them a BIG cheer and shout out for the work they are doing to equip kids with gear to get outside.
With gratitude and a humble heart,
Brian “Faithhiker” Ford
HBF Founder & #LHX2017 Director