View Full Version : Omaha hiker thru-hiking for Alzheimer's

07-28-2004, 11:48

Man uses his feet to fight disease A Lincoln native is walking the Appalachian Trail to benefit Alzheimer's research.

By Matt Wynn
Omaha World-Herald (http://javascript<b></b>:NewWindow(%20'FIISrcDetails','?from=article&ids=omha');void(0);)
July 26, 2004

When Ron Reagan gives his speech about stem-cell research Tuesday during the Democratic National Convention, 24-year-old Trevor Hain probably won't even get to see it.
The Lincoln native will be somewhere between Manchester Center, Vt., and Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in the middle of his own effort to raise money to fight Alzheimer's disease.

June 3, Hain, a recent graduate of Southeast Community College in Lincoln, packed his backpack with 47 pounds of supplies, hopped on a bus and took off. After two days on several buses, he began his walk.

Hain plans to cover the full length of the 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail. That would take him almost three months at his current clip of 25 miles a day.

His goal is to raise $1,000, less than 50 cents for every mile walked.

His parents, Connie and Joe Hain of Lincoln, weren't surprised to hear of their son's plans. After all, they say, he has always been a compassionate kid.

He played Santa for the neighborhood kids, packing pillow after pillow on his 5-foot-10, 140-pound frame to get the trademark potbelly to look just right.

Ron Reagan's father, former President Reagan, died last month of Alzheimer's-related complications, and some in the Reagan family have advocated federal funding of stem-cell research to battle the affliction.

Alzheimer's has also hit the Hain family hard. Alyce Hain, Trevor's grandmother, had the disease for years before dying of cancer about 14 years ago. Larry Hain, his uncle, was only 47 when diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Now, a decade later, the effects of the disease are pronounced.

"You go to visit my brother," Joe Hain said, "and he doesn't know us."

Trevor Hain planned his trip months in advance. He saved money from his construction job so he could pay off his bills and afford to take the summer off. Then he moved out of his apartment and put his belongings in storage.

MaryBeth McWilliams of Lincoln is the community outreach and development coordinator for the Great Plains Alzheimer's Association. The Hains have long been participants in the group's Memory Walk, which raises funds for programs, research and services.

"We're thrilled that he wanted to do this," McWilliams said.

Geri Hepp, who also works for the Lincoln organization, said Hain's trek contributes to greater public awareness of the disease.

So, too, do the efforts of people such as former broadcast journalist Maria Shriver, who wrote a children's book about Alzheimer's, and Reagan's family, Hepp said. But Alzheimer's gets so much attention, she said, because it touches so many families.

"Every single one of us," she said, "knows somebody who has Alzheimer's."