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The Appalachian Trail spans over 2,200 miles from Mount Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia. Out of the dozens of people who attempt to hike it in just one season – only 15% ever make it. Tell that to Nathan Hunt and Danny Kennedy and they’ll just smile. Challenges like this are nothing compared to what they've already been through, and they hope it will inspire thousands of fellow veterans to overcome obstacles associated with their injury and pain.
In 2008, Army SGT Nathan Hunt was escorting a convoy searching for roadside bombs during a Route Clearance Mission when an explosion erupted beneath his vehicle. The bomb hurled him across the vehicle in a flash of light. Nathan remained conscious throughout his evacuation as he was transferred to the nearest aid station and then finally, by helicopter, to a nearby hospital. Nathan lost both his legs above the knees in the explosion. Moving from one hospital to the next he spent a year and a half rehabilitating. Nathan started hand cycling just four months after his injuries and has since become a national spokesman for Ride 2 Recovery and is an inspiration to everyone he meets, but especially to veterans whose lives have been dramatically changed by battlefield injuries.
Nathan Hunt and Danny Kennedy have developed a close bond in the recent years. Danny suffered tremendous injuries during a training accident in January 2008. Danny was assisting a man going into cardiac arrest, by rendering first aid, when an armored Humvee weighing over 5,000 pounds accidentally ran over him. Danny’s spinal cord was severely damaged resulting in partial paralysis on the right side of his body. His injuries also damaged the frontal lobe of his brain resulting in blindness in one eye, impairment of his five senses, and major hearing loss. Danny had to learn to walk, talk and live again. He struggled through a period of homelessness, addiction, and thoughts of suicide. Danny overcame these difficulties and has since rehabilitated to the point of longer needing a wheelchair. Not long after he started rock climbing, bike racing with Ride 2 Recovery, and even triathlons.
Danny and Nathan have recently announced that they will be the first ever wounded soldier team to complete the Appalachian Trail in just one season. In March of this year, together they will attempt to cover ten miles per day through rocks, mountain ranges, and eight river crossings. Nathan will be completing the journey using only his hands and arms to propel him across the vast distance. Danny will take on the trek being partially paralyzed, while carrying both he and Nate's gear on his back.
The staff at Outersports.com has been so inspired by Nathan and Danny that we're sponsoring the duo with thermal underwear, clothing, specialized harnesses, rope, and other equipment to aid in their journey. They will also be provided with waterproof cameras. Outersports will be tracking their entire hike and updating regularly in the form of blogs, maps, pictures, and even exclusive video content. You will be able to follow their experience as they set out to complete every stage of the Appalachian Trail.
Danny discusses the Appalachian Trail:
If you would like to support Nathan and Danny, and other wounded soldiers, you can do so through donations to Ride 2 Recovery.