GRAFTON—Two West Virginia natives are hiking the Appalachian Trail for Alzheimer Disease awareness.
Cousins Bruce Musser and Bill Nash, originally from Greenbrier County and both recently retired, are taking on the daunting task of hiking the 2,200-mile trail.
When asked why hiking to raise awareness Musser replied, “I’ve always wanted to do this, I enjoy being outside and hiking.”
Musser came up with the plan after both of his parents, now in their 90’s, were diagnosed with the horrible disease.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, which is a general term for the loss of memory and intellectual abilities. Alzheimer’s disease is fatal and there is no cure. It is a slow-moving disease that starts with memory loss and ends with severe brain damage
They started their trek on September 3, 2019 and hope to end sometime in November for the winter months. It really all depends on the weather as they want to make as much headway as they can. They will finish the hike in the spring.
The men are averaging 10-15 miles a day in sometimes very challenging conditions.
“The most challenging part is getting your body used to walking that much. I didn’t really train for it,” explained Musser.
Musser said that they have had extensive help from their wives as well as friends and family that have dropped off boxes of provisions and have truly been their “trail angels”.
“It helps to have done a lot of research and pack light,” said Musser. Musser said that they pick up boxes of supplies every five to six days which makes their load a little heavier but for the most part they went light.
The team of two stay in shelters when they are available but when not, they have their tents with them.
Musser that working in their favor has been starting in the fall when there aren’t as many people on the trail. They have however, met folks from Australia, France, Germany, and the Netherlands while on their journey.
The team’s goal is to raise at least $1 per mile in donations. “My parents are in their 90s and I know there is nothing that can be done. I might get it and there will be nothing that can be done but hopefully there will be something come out of this that can help my grandchildren one day,” said Musser.
They have a team registered for the Beckley/Oak Hill walk. People that want to make a contribution to Musser and Nash’s plight can do so by going to Walk to End Alzheimer’s and put in their team name which is ATW4Alz.