Haylee Korzendorfer had plans to go with her dad on whatâ€™s known as a â€œDeath Marchâ€ among outdoorsmen â€“â€“ a 50 mile hike from the Grand Canyonâ€™s South Rim to its northern counterpart and back to be completed in 24 hours.
But things changed for the CSU freshman.
â€œDad was diagnosed with (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) in August of 2009,â€ she said. â€œHe died this January.â€
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrigâ€™s disease, causes the nerve cells in certain regions of your brain and spinal cord to gradually die. According to the Mayo Clinic, people with ALS eventually lose the ability to move their limbs and the muscles needed to move, eat, speak and breathe.
Korzendorfer, in honor of her father, will go on the death march April 16 and 17 â€“â€“ but sheâ€™s bringing four friends from CSUâ€™s Outdoor Club and turning it into a fundraiser forthe ALS Association, which fights the disease through things like scientific research and awareness campaigns.
Acadia Gantz, Jordan Diefenderfer and Ryan Beam are joining Korzendorfer on the march and have helped raise $520 through a donation page they set up at the ALS Associationâ€™s website.
Gantz, a freshman psychology major who rooms with Korzendorfer, said the money has come from friends, family and students, all of whom she thanks for sponsoring miles with $20 contributions.
â€œOur goal is $1,000 right now,â€ she said. â€œNo businesses have donated yet, but a few like Jax Sporting Goods in Fort Collins have been really friendly to what weâ€™re doing.â€
The company has been training together and individually in preparation for the demanding hike. Diefenderfer said heâ€™s been running, skiing and rock climbing, knowing that â€œin terms of endurance, it will be the toughest thing Iâ€™ve ever done,â€ he said.
While they hope to complete the hike within 24 hours, as the â€œDeath Marchâ€ challenge requires, group members said they are realistic about the likelihood of staying within the marchâ€™s parameters. Over-exerting themselves, Korzendorfer said, could lead to needing an expensive helicopter evacuation.
â€œAir-vacs cost $4,000,â€ she said. â€œWe donâ€™t want that to happen.â€
Writes Gantz on the groupâ€™s blog: â€œPeople say you have to do it in under 24 hours for it to count (as a march) â€¦ we say if you hike continuously it counts as a day.â€
Senior Reporter Andrew Carrera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.