3,100 mile hike + $25,000 = 25 lives changed forever. How Ken Dawson plans to pay it forward…
I grew up near Detroit, Michigan, in an urban environment, surrounded by concrete, constructing adventure in my backyard neighborhoods. The urban outdoors and our weekend excursions as a family always provided a sense of freedom, adventure and happiness that help shaped me into the person I am today. I was fortunate that my family loved camping and we spent many summers hiking, fishing and exploring the great outdoors beyond the boundaries of own city. Once, we took a trip out west. I will always remember the feelings I had when I first saw the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone. When I got older and started to have a family of my own, I introduced them to the same outdoor activities I had when I was a child. Then in 1998 we went on a backpacking trip to Glacier National Park and it changed our lives.
We discovered a whole new fondness for exploring wild places and every year since we have made time to spend at least one week a year exploring new wilderness areas as a family. Today, we are still very active and passionate about the outdoors. My daughter is now the Director of the Wilderness Institute at the University of Montana and my son is a police officer and avid climber, married, and living in the Denver, CO area. I have seen how the wilderness experience has shaped my own family. I have also discovered what a wilderness experience can do for a troubled youth who unfortunately took the wrong path in life. Such programs take troubled young adults and engage them in a developed wilderness mentoring program that gives them a new sense of purpose and self-respect. I have witnessed the power of healing through these wilderness programs and that is why I am so passionate in trying to have as many young people have the same opportunities that I have had.
I plan on retiring in the near future and on April 12, 2015 I plan on starting a thru-hike on the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). If there is a legacy to my professional career it would be utilizing the skills sets I have acquired over the years and applying those to a humanitarian effort.
I have been blessed in life, and my family has been blessed in life. Now, I want to share the gifts I have been given, and give back to the places that have shaped my own outlook on life by providing the opportunities for transformative experiences in the outdoors for kids that come from an urban background much like my own, and those of my children. I want to match my passion for 3,100 miles of thru-hiking with that of raising money and awareness for a great cause; giving kids from urban areas the opportunities they would never have if it wasn’t for the BCM program.
If my efforts stop only one child from joining a gang, encouraged one student to graduate from high school, motivated one young adult to start a non-profit, or just created the opportunity for one young person to be a contributing member of society, then my cause will be a great success.