When Rick Marks was told that he had ALS in October 2016, he faced the devastating diagnosis with grace and determination. Rick’s greatest wish was to contribute to ongoing ALS research and help other families living with the disease by raising funds and awareness while he still could. He decided to do what he loved best: hike. He organized Rick’s Hike for ALS and set off to hike the last 600 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Because, why not??
Rick set off with his friend Ted Kellogg at Mt. Greylock in western Massachusetts on June 17, 2017 – by this time he could no longer speak and wore braces to support his neck and his left foot, but he remained undaunted. He quickly found that he needed to take a break every few days but he always returned to the trail. Over the next seven weeks forty-five different friends hiked 128 miles of the Appalachian Trail with Rick. Others hiked an additional 275 miles toward the 600-mile goal. Rick celebrated the end of his hike at Mt. Katahdin in northern Maine (the terminus of the AT), with Boy Scout Troop 507 on August 6th. He and his hiking partners kept this blog throughout their journey, which has been viewed by over 13,000 people from 63 countries.
Rick lost his battle with ALS on April 11, 2018, just 18 months after he was diagnosed. He was 56 years old. He leaves behind his wife Eileen and his sons Henry and Philip. We miss him every day.
Rick’s Hike for ALS has so far raised over $160,000 towards ALS research and care. The Hike continues in his memory with satellite treks and other events in his honor across the country working toward a cure. We will post new blog entries over the summer as these activities take place. Thank you for continuing Rick’s journey!