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Tour de Smokies fundraising challenge begins

Ford and East prepare for their adventure. Donated photo Ford and East prepare for their adventure. Donated photo

At midnight Friday, Sept. 4, a pair of experienced Smokies hikers embarked on a 900-mile challenge in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with the goal of raising $60,000 for the park’s Preventative Search and Rescue program. 

Nancy “Seal Mom” East and Chris “Pacer” Ford will catalogue their Tour de Smokies journey on East’s blog “Hope and Feather Travels” at www.hopeandfeathertravels.com. Along the way, they’ll show hikers what it takes to properly train and prepare for such an adventure.

Funds raised will go directly toward funding two seasonal rangers. The rangers will assist with rescues and be part of the Smokies’ increased preventative efforts. They will oversee a cadre of volunteers who will hike various areas in the park to help visitors make good choices about their hiking. 

To donate, visit www.friendsofthesmokies.org, call 800.845.5665 or mail a check to Friends of the Smokies, P.O. Box 1660, Kodak, TN 37764.