Going the Distance: Man hikes from NYC to Canada to raise profile of nonprofit that helps sick children


BENNINGTON -- A Georgia man recently hiked from New York City to Canada to raise awareness for Angelight Films, a nonprofit organization that makes films about children with brain and spinal cord tumors.

John Fox, who has lived in New York for the past eight years, made the hike in sections over a three-year period. Some sections, such as the parts of his hike running through Connecticut and Massachusetts, only took about three days each to complete.

The longest section of his hike was a 14-day trek through the Vermont wilderness on the Long Trail, a 272-mile trail which begins at the Massachusetts state line near Williamstown and continues north to the Canadian border near North Troy. The trail was a major inspiration for the Appalachian Trail, which coincides with the Long Trail for 100 miles in southern Vermont. The two trails pass near Bennington, in Woodford. "There aren't a lot of trails that do what it does," said Fox of the Long Trail.

Fox, who wanted as much of a wilderness experience as possible, said "The challenge was finding a route." He traveled a total distance of 534 miles on a route that took him along the Long Path in New York as well as the Appalachian Trail through Connecticut and Massachusetts, from the Hudson Highlands, to the Berkshires, and finally through the Green Mountains. The time he spent hiking added up to around a month.

Fox did his best to avoid urban areas when creating his route, but still encountered many fellow hikers.

"There's a surprising amount of people out there," said Fox. Many of those he ran into were experienced hikers who were able to give him good advice on how to overcome the physical challenges he would face along the route. He did note that the Long Trail became much more remote after its split from the Appalachian Trail, near Rutland.

Fox said most of the challenges he faced were physical. "You get over the psychological things, the feeling of being alone," said Fox, who works in hospitality in New York and is hoping to move to California to pursue a master's degree in philosophy. During his hike, he suffered from bad knees, shin splints, and physical exhaustion.

"Sometimes you just get to the point where your legs just won't go any further," he said.

According to its website, Angelight Films, founded by Stephanie Angel in 2009, is a nonprofit organization that "gives children with brain and spinal cord tumors the opportunity to express themselves by creating, and even starring in, their own film." Their films have been featured at many film festivals and fundraising events.

"There's just so many of them in the United States, with 4,000 or so diagnosed every year," said Fox. Advances in medicine have made a big difference in many of these children's' lives, but more help is always needed.

"What I went through is a lot like what these children go through, except on a microscopic scale compared to what they deal with," said Fox, "I was able to experience hardships, and overcome them."

For more information about Angelight Films, visit angelightfilms.org.

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at dcarson@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB.


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