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Hike for Hank

Tom Young is honoring the memory of his father, Joseph Harrison “Hank” Young, by hiking 500 miles to raise money for lung cancer research. The trip begins on Friday, July 8 in Hendaye, France.

A message from Tom

A Battle Lost, A War Still Left To Win

Hank Young

Last fall, I lost my dad to lung cancer. When he first received his diagnosis it seemed like an impossibility. Just a few months prior, we had hiked a demanding traverse through Colorado’s San Juan mountain range, and I couldn’t understand how someone in such demonstrably good shape could have such a terrible disease. But there was no mistake, no mix up, no false positive or other error. Even after the news had begun to sink in, I didn’t think for a second that his diagnosis was a life sentence. After all, he hadn’t taken a sick day from work in decades, and he was my family’s rock – if nothing else could shake him, then how could this? There was a particular intensity my dad brought to everything he did, whether that was biking a hundred miles in the blazing heat or working late into the night only to be the first one up in the house each morning. To put it lightly, he was ceaseless.

Nonetheless, with an alarming pace, his health began to decline. Hank ultimately lost his battle – and there is no other word for it – but without access to state-of-the-art medicines and diagnostics, there would have been no fight to begin with. With more research dedicated to the detection, treatment, and prevention of lung cancer, I’m hopeful that some day soon we can make stories like his an anachronism, and no longer will lung cancers be able to inflict so much suffering and loss as they do today. That’s why this summer I’m hiking 500 miles for a cure to cancer, and why I’m hoping you will support the fight of all cancer patients by donating to the Lung Cancer Research Foundation. So many of my happiest memories with my dad were on the trail, and I can think of no better way to honor his memory than to carry his torch onwards to new adventures.

From Sea To Shining Sea

Joined by friends and loved ones, my journey will start on the coast of the Cantabrian Sea in Hendaye, a seaside hamlet on the French-Spanish border. We will make our way through the central ridge of the Pyrenees, the mountain range that forms a natural border between the two countries. We will loosely follow the Haute Route Pyrénéenne, a path described as “more of an idea than a route as such”.

The expedition will have a gentle start, taking us through the rolling hills and endless sheep of France and Spain’s Basque Country. These hills will eventually give way to mighty spires of granite as we make our way through the heart of the range. In an effort to stay at as high as an altitude as possible, the trek will often leave any marked trail behind in favor of the rugged crests of granite ridge lines and the steep snowy cols which offer passage to the next valley. We will traverse some of the last glaciers left in the Pyrenees and summit Pico de Aneto, the highest peak of the range. Then, we will reach Catalonia, where we will hike through the most remote region of the trip: we will go a week without seeing even a small town. The wild character of this mountain wilderness will eventually give way to the small country of Andorra, after which the final descent will begin. Finally, we will arrive in the beach town of Banyuls-Sur-Mer on the Vermillion Coast. In this small hamlet, mirroring our start in Hendaye 500 miles ago, we will at long last reach the Mediterranean Sea, concluding our journey.

A Foundation Worth Supporting

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer mortality, but despite this, lung cancer research receives far less funding than any other type of cancer. The Lung Cancer Research Foundation has dedicated tens of millions of dollars to hundreds of research projects focused on novel ways to prevent, diagnose, treat, and ultimately cure lung cancer. All research proposals that LCRF funds are reviewed by a board of world-leading scientists and physicians in order to ensure that all money raised is used efficaciously.

The last decade has seen an unprecedented amount of progress made in available treatments, with targeted therapies and immunotherapies dramatically improving patient outcomes. This progress has been possible only through the hard work of researchers and those that made their research possible. Each year, over 100,000 people in the United States alone are lost to lung cancer. I firmly believe that the work that LCRF grants enable will help build a world where these deaths can be prevented, and I hope you will join me in supporting their efforts.