Bristol, Tenn. - A walk to remember -- that's the mission of a young man from Bristol, Tennessee.
He plans to walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, and for more than just exercise. His efforts will raise money for the Alzheimer's Association.
Watching what the disease has done to his grandfather is all the motivation he needed.
David Sweitzer goes through his pack, making sure that all of the essentials for the first leg of his six-month adventure are ready to go. David and his best friend are planning to walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, over two thousand miles.
He's taken up the cause of the Alzheimer's Association to raise both money and awareness about the disease that has afflicted his grandfather. "[He was a] wild outdoorsy guy, free-spirited, clever, and a blast as a grandfather when I was growing up. That's probably hit a bit hard with when he kind of lost that identity and who he was," David says.
Walking the trail is something he's always wanted to do, but doing it for a cause has raised the bar a bit to honor his grandfather. "Me walking from Georgia to Maine isn't going to solve Alzheimer's by any means, but it does honor him a bit just to kind of do it in his honor," he said.
That's why he's already been hard at work raising money for the organization, nearly reaching his $15,000 goal before he's stepped foot on the trail.
He says he's taking on the trail because he knows personally what the disease can do to people. "You've learned over the course of your life the kind of person you are, and how to be who you are. That gets stripped away. It really strips people of their identity. It's nasty to watch, it's tough," Sweitzer says.
So walking the trail for six months is nothing compared to what folks go through. He says that's more than enough motivation. "I think the only thing that would take us out of the game are broken legs, and maybe that wouldn't do it, so we'll see. I think we've got a pretty good chance," he said.
He's got more than just a chance -- he's got determination.
Sweitzer and his best friend leave for Georgia to begin their journey on Friday.
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