The Man on a Mission is Back!
Kurt on the Florida Trail in 2022. It took him 63 days, and he fundraised to sponsor 34 students.
On Monday, Feb. 6, Kurt set out on a lesser-known trail, the Ouachita National Recreation Trail, which spans parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas, with the goal of sponsoring 50 students. The Ouachita Trail covers 223 miles, and although it may be shorter, it’s certainly no cakewalk. At this time of year, Kurt will be battling the elements, including cold and the possibility of ice. It’s also known to be a rocky trail, and most challenging of all, Kurt has been dealing with knee problems since his last hike. Of course, we know Kurt is up for the challenge!
Kurt will enjoy some company this time as he will be hiking with a friend, Aaron Sundstrom, whom he met while volunteering with The Sonder Project following Hurricane Michael in 2018. Following the devastating hurricane that heavily damaged the Panama City, FL. area, a neighboring city to our headquarters in Santa Rosa Beach, FL., The Sonder Project responded by organizing volunteers, helping with the clean-up, and rebuilding homes. You can read more about the impact of those efforts, which ended in 2020, HERE. Aaron and Kurt were our most dedicated volunteers focused on removing fallen trees, and they became close friends.
Kurt on the CDT back in 2020. It took him 142 days, and he was able to fundraise to drill a well in Burkina Faso.
As Aaron told us, “I remember hearing about how Kurt was going out camping, and I had never been camping much. I decided to take my whole family with his family for our first trip. We brought ten times the amount of stuff and not what we needed. We were freezing out there, and it was miserable. My kids hated it, but I loved it. Since then, I’ve learned from Kurt to pack better, and we’ve done more family trips together.”
Aaron (far left) leading a group of Sonder Project volunteers doing hurricane clean-up in 2018.
(L-R) Aaron and Kurt went camping together before starting the Ouachita Trail.
For Kurt’s part, he is looking forward to hiking with a close friend. “I’m going to have to slow my pace down, and I’m going to have to learn not to be as competitive. On my past hikes, I’ve missed the quiet time in my mind because I was just chasing dopamine. I would see a peak, look for one minute, and then search for the next challenge to overcome. Aaron will help keep me honest and allow me to embrace each moment.”
Aaron and Kurt began the Ouachita Trail on Monday, Feb.6. They hope to complete the effort in less than a month. Aaron isn’t one for social media, but you can follow Kurt’s efforts through his Facebook or Instagram profiles. You may also show your encouragement and support for their efforts by contributing to Kurt’s student sponsorship campaign and helping him reach his goal of sponsoring 50 students!
Kurt (left) and Aaron Sundstrom on day one of the Ouachita Trail. They are starting from the Arkansas side.
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