Alexandria Amadoro, 9, Hamburg, has been training to hike the entire Appalachian Trail with a goal of raising $3,100,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
“I love being in the wilderness and I love hiking so I thought because I love St. Jude and I really want to help them I can hike while I’m helping them,” said Alexandria. “It’s really cool how it fits together like that.”
Her goal seems impossible but while hiking with Alexandria on one of her recent training hikes to Pulpit Rock outside Hamburg, Alexandria exuded happiness and confidence, like she was capable of anything. Everyone she met on the trail became instant friends. Thru-hikers were awed and inspired by her goal to hike for St. Jude and encouraged her in completing her goal.
Starting March 2019, Alexandria plans to thru-hike the AT from Georgia to Maine with her father, Eddie Amadoro, with a goal of raising $3,100,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. At age 4, her family received a letter from St. Jude. Alexandria asked her parents why the child had no hair. When they explained to her what St. Jude does and why the child had no hair, Alexandria began to cry. She ran to get her piggy bank, saying, “Help them.”
“Ever since then I’ve really wanted to help them. It’s really come along,” said Alexandria.
Her father Eddie explained the significance of wanting to raise $3,1 million. Originally, Alexandria wanted to do a walk-a-thon on the Continental Divide Trail which runs from Mexico to Canada with a total of 3,100 miles. They calculated that they could raise $1,000 per mile, potentially raising $3.1 million as a walk-a-thon. Eddie said logistically they couldn’t do a walk-a-thon on the Continental Drive Trail so they switched it to the Appalachian Trail, an estimated 2,200 miles, but Alexandria did not want to change the fundraising goal. Alexandria told her father that the kids at St. Jude have cancer and really need the money.
“We always tell her to dream big so we have to support her,” said Eddie, so they began plans to complete a thru-hike of the AT for St. Jude.
Alexandria said they hike a lot, usually the Schuylkill River Trail and sections of the AT.
“We’re doing a lot of hiking and we’re camping out in our backyard,” said Alexandria about preparing for the thru-hike.
They plan to backpack overnight this summer once they have all of their gear (Cabela’s recently offered to be their official outfitter), from Port Clinton to Delaware Water Gap, which Eddie estimated to be about 70 miles.
“We’ve really done a lot of research on this. She’s actually not going to be the youngest kid to do it,” said Eddie. “We’ve been helping hikers for the past three or four years. She’s met hikers from all over Europe, Canada.”
Alexandria finds talking with thru-hikers gives her inspiration in meeting her goal.
“It makes me realize that you’re never alone, that you always have someone there rooting you on and that those hikers become your friends. You can really depend on them to be there when you need them,” said Alexandria.
Her mother Amy believes that just being around the hiking community gives Eddie and Alexandria an idea of what they will be doing.
“We love doing the Trail Magic,” said Amy, explaining that they offer rides and temporary housing for thru-hikers.
Amy will be the one sending care packages to be delivered at post offices along the AT; she will be their support system. While she won’t be hiking with them, Amy will meet them along the trail over the summer months.
One of the big questions is what Alexandria will do about school during her six-month adventure on the AT. Her mother is a fourth grade teacher and Alexandria will be a fourth grader this coming school year, so Amy will homeschool Alexandria starting this summer. Alexandria will continue to study, read and do educational activities, including field trips to historical sites, during her thru-hike.
Eddie also said there will be no pressure on Alexandria to hike specific miles each day and he will be watching the weather forecasts, particularly in Georgia where there could be snow. There will be planned days to go off the trail for rest and to enjoy the local sites and activities.
“She is 9 and this is a big thing so we want to keep it light and fun. Make it about getting out there and having fun and helping the kids of St. Jude,” said Eddie.
Once they both get their “trail legs,” he anticipates an average 15 miles per day will keep them on pace to reach Mount Katahdin in Maine by September or the latest October.
“Take it as it comes,” said Eddie. “One step at a time.”
St. Jude has already set up a fundraising page for Alexandria with 100 percent of all money raised going to the hospital.
For more information about Alexandria’s fundraising thru-hike, visit https://goalexandriago.org/. Follow Alexandria on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GoAlexandriaGo.