Weekend Warriors in search of a cure

By Posted on Oct 06 2016 | By

Fighting childhood cancer one hike at a time

It’s a test of endurance. A rugged, mountainous 21-mile hike in the Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia. In one day.

For the participating hikers the aching feet and sore thighs are a small price to pay knowing they are contributing to a cure for childhood cancer.

Perhaps no tragedy is more painful than the loss of a child. In addition to the arduous walk, some of the hikers carry heavy memories of their deceased young ones as they climb and descend the rolling landscape.

Jim Carson

Jim Carson

The spirit and energy behind one of several of these Mid-Atlantic annual adventures is Jim Carson. Carson is managing partner of Carson, Ashley & Associates, an engineering and surveying firm in Warrenton.

He is also founder of a hiking club called Boots ’n Beer. After each hike, members adjourn to a local pub to rehydrate with a brew. The club’s motto, “A drinking club with a hiking problem” underscores the fun and health-conscious theme of the organization.

Three years ago Carson realized his club also held the potential to support worthwhile causes. He created Boots ‘n Beer Charities, a not-for-profit entity, created in part by the loss of his son, Devin, at the age of six from leukemia.

The first charity the hiking club chose to support was CureSearch, a national organization committed to finding a cure for childhood cancers. One segment of the organization’s fundraising efforts is called Ultimate Hike. Carson found a perfect link with his Boots ‘n Beer Charities.

The coach & the hiker
Since his son’s death in 2005, Carson has personally raised over $50,000 in a variety of endeavors to find a cure for blood cancers. But when CureSearch’s Ultimate Hike crossed his path, he and fellow club member, Andreas Keller, became coaches supporting those who wished to undertake the marathon hike.

One of their prized trainees is Annie Gould. To clarify, she was a trainee, but is no longer.

Gould, 60, lives in Barboursville and lost her 14-year-old daughter, Eloise, to sarcoma in 2014. Since her daughter’s death she has raised $250,000 to support a cure search, mostly through walks in the Charlottesville area.

Annie Gould, left, takes a break with fellow hikers.

Annie Gould, left, takes a break with fellow hikers.

But Gould loves challenges and when she met Carson their mutual interests sparked a desire to ratchet up her physical endurance goals. She signed up for the grueling Dolly Sods hike and enlisted the support of two other people to hike with her.

Carson and Keller then set in motion a series of increasingly difficult training hikes for the team.

“Annie is amazing. She started out on our first training hike averaging 1.1 miles an hour and successfully completed the 21-mile hike,” Keller said.

All of the hikers regularly met at a central location, then motored together to the Shenandoah National Park to break both a sweat and time trial records.

Last fall her efforts reaped its rewards when she and her hiking teammates contributed $10,000 to CureSearch.

“I’m proud of what I’ve achieved and consider it an honor to be doing something to find a cure. I do it for my surviving daughter, my nieces and nephews. I want to find a cure for childhood cancers and the only way to do it is through more and more research,”Gould said.

With hundreds of people dedicated to Ultimate Hike in the Mid-Atlantic region, Gould’s dream will hopefully be realized in the not-to-distant future.

Today, Gould serves on the Board of Directors of CureSearch in addition to raising money for the charity.

To contribute to Annie Gould’s “Remembering Eloise” team visit:  http://www.ultimatehike.com/dollysods/rememberingeloise and follow the Ultimate Hike link.


                                                    So how’d they do?

On August 13, 2016 Annie Gould’s “Remembering Eloise” team completed their second arduous 21-mile Ultimate Hike in West Virginia’s Dolly Sods Wilderness Area. Gould’s coaches Jim Carson and Andreas Keller also crossed the finish line.

Given the heat wave that blistered the east coast that day, it was a significant accomplishment, creating over 90,000 foot falls per hiker through the remote mountain terrain.

By participating in the hiking fundraiser Gould and her small team raised $7,000 for CureSearch. The entire 40 registered hikers raised $114,700.

Congratulations to the sore feet brigade!

For information on the CureSearch Ultimate Hike visit: http://www.curesearchevents.org/site/TR?fr_id=1113&pg=entry


Published in the Fall 2016 edition of inFauquier magazine.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES