Adventure and Fundraising

Adventure and Fundraising

May 30, 2017 Off By Hawkeye Johnson

Hawkeye Johnson hikes the Southern San Juan Mountains on the Continental Divide Trail(CDT) in 2007.

I’ve been a long distance hiker for many years. Hiking was especially important to me to relieve the stress of being employed in the department of corrections.  After I retired in 1995, I had the time to really get into it. By 2004 I had achieved hiking’s Triple Crown, having completed the 2,170 mile Appalachian Trail(AT), the 2,658 mile Pacific Crest Trail(PCT) and the 3,000 mile Continental Divide Trail(CDT). I enjoyed the simplicity of life on the trail, the freedom of everything on your back and the happiness of an outdoor adventure.

Using your adventures to raise money for your favorite charity is not a difficult thing to do and can be a very rewarding experience. Even better, by raising money, you can direct how it is used by the charity. You must be willing to write about your experience and share it with others as well do some self promotion. Long distance hikers and bikers have a unique opportunity to receive support through per mile donations which can really add up. Practically any activity can be used for fundraising if you’re willing to promote it.

Hawkeye and Kevin M skiing with TASP in Telluride 2009

After many years in Telluride as a volunteer instructor teaching people with disabilities to ski and snowboard,  I wondered what else I could do to help that program. In 2007, I was planning to hike the Continental Divide Trail for a second time. I decided to create a web page called GoHawkeye that was linked to Trail Journals and the donation page of the Telluride Adaptive Sports Program(TASP) website.

I began to promote the fundraiser by word of mouth with friends, family and almost anyone who expressed interest. TASP put the information on their website and in their newsletter while the local newspaper did a story. People became excited about this effort to help people with disabilities enjoy outdoor recreation and wanted to follow the adventure.

Hawkeye Johnson at Kenosha Pass on the Colorado Trail in 2013.

During the five month trek, I updated the online journal in small town libraries along the way. I wrote about my experiences along the trail and asked readers to spread the word about the fundraiser. Of course, the hike was an amazing experience and even better than the first time so there was plenty to write about when I could find a library. Another method is to have someone at home transcribe your journal entries.

An amazing thing happened, by the end of the hike I had raised $17,000 through the TASP website! TASP is a recognized 501(c)3 organization therefore sent tax receipts to all the donors while I wrote the thank you notes when I returned. Even better, TASP let me specify that the money be used for audio visual equipment and outdoor sports equipment needed by the program. 100% of the money went to TASP, I paid all my expenses.  Since then I have hiked the PCT and the 480 mile Colorado Trail while raising an incredible $50,000 for TASP. It’s a extremely rewarding  to take something like a long distance hike and make it even more worthwhile by raising money for charity.

“Falling Into Place” Film Poster – Craig Stein

I began to realize how important outdoor recreation and adventure was to everyone, especially those living with a disability. It was one thing to go to an adaptive organization and try out the equipment but not take it home. In 2013, some friends and I sponsored an essay contest to win a custom off road hand cycle. We chose paraplegic Danielle L Watson and granted her wish for a multi day adventure riding her new custom mountain bike in Moab, Utah. We were so inspired by Danielle that we also made a short documentary about her story called, ” Falling Into Place “.

It took a lot of friends and support to make all this happen and we were so empowered by what was possible, that we created a non-profit with the mission to support adaptive organizations and individuals with outdoor recreational equipment and opportunities. Since then GoHawkeye has awarded over $175,000 to eight organizations and 60 individuals.

Hawkeye Johnson on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, Maine 2017.

With the formation of the GoHawkeye Foundation in 2014, I have continued to hike and raise money to promote adaptive sports and recreation. Now, I’m inventing a 450 mile trail through the San Juan mountains of southwest Colorado starting and ending at my door. Check out the GoHawkeye San Juan Trail HERE and DONATE to help support adaptive athletes with sports equipment and outdoor experiences. I am happy to help others learn how to make their adventures even more special by raising money for their favorite charity. For more information contact me at [email protected]