Blind Man to Hike the Appalachian Trail Alone

This popped up when I was researching topics for the magazine and I wanted to bring it to your attention and offer the support of the Matilda Ziegler Magazine.

If you visit the homepage of his site, you’ll be able to read, “My name is Mike Hansen.  On March 1 I will begin to hike the 2174 mile Appalachian Trail solo.  I happen to be blind.”

Mike says he is doing this to make a statement about the “independence and confidence of the visually impaired.”  He is upset that nearly 80% of all visually impaired people are unemployed, a number created by the US Department of Labor.  That number represents employment figures across all fields and positions.  This forces those with a visual impairment to rely on systems like welfare and social security.  Aside from the financial cost, though, he cites the psychological issues that stem from such rampant unemployment.  Depression and isolation, among others, wear terribly on people who are living life with a visual disability.

He says that with technology, he has learned to operate a computer just as well as a sighted person and with the advent of personal GPS, he can navigate the city he lives in very easily.  With future technologies becoming more accessible and less expensive, and as the potential for the blind and visually impaired to operate the same as sighted employees, there is hope that the number of unemployed will drop.  However, it’s the stigma that is placed on the visually impaired that adds another layer of difficulty.

By making the long and, at times, dangerous trek along the Appalachian Trail, Mike is hoping to shatter that stigma and encourage everybody, sighted or not, that the blind community is as independent and strong as anyone else.

Mike will make his trip alone, with only a cane and a GPS to guide him on his way.  When he is able to access the internet at stops along the way, he will update his blog and inform the world of his progress.  He is anticipating that this trip will take him anywhere from six to eight months to complete.

I hope that you’ll join me in encouraging Mike as he sets out on his journey.  To visit his site, go to http://www.hansonatcampaign.com/index.html.  The direct link to his blog is http://blindhiker.wordpress.com/.

Good luck, Mike.  Stay safe out there.


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