A Year and Twenty-Four Miles Later

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A Year and Twenty-Four Miles Later

Madison Fendley, Online Editor

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As many students may know, last September a small group of teachers traveled to Arizona to hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim. Unfortunately, one of these teachers, David Walther, had to return home early and didn’t get to hike with the group. The day after his return, Walther was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer. Within a week of arriving home, he went to Shands for brain surgery and has since been taking chemo treatment. After a year of cancer treatments, doctor appointments, teaching, and persistent training for the hike, Walther and twenty-four others returned to the Grand Canyon for his twenty-four mile rim to rim “Redemption Hike,” as many are calling it. Sixteen of those actually hiked, and other friends, coworkers, family, and even former students went to simply support him.

Along with Walther’s family and friends, some of our faculty and staff who hiked with him included Greg Gill, Kathleen Carroll, and Rick Carroll. “Even though every part of it was great, the best part of the trip was having everyone there together,” said Walther. For many of the other hikers, it was their first time experiencing the challenging rim to rim trek. “It was an incredible experience! This was my first time hiking rim to rim.  I have wanted to do it for a while, but I didn’t really know how to get ‘into’ the group.  Then, Mr. Walther sent a pretty emotional email to the Pace High family and at the end, invited anyone who wanted to join him for the fall 2019 trip.  My husband and I decided that day that we wanted to go with Mr. Walther’s group,” said K. Carroll.

During their time in Arizona, the group got to visit landmarks like Horseshoe Bend and the Navajo bridge over the Colorado River, but most of the hikers said the hike was their favorite part. “It is one of the most amazing things to get to say that I’ve seen the Grand Canyon from a way that many people will never get to. I’ve now gotten to see it not only from the top looking down, but from the bottom looking up two years in a row now,” Gill said. “I definitely enjoyed the hike the most, although it became very tough at the end.  It was such a beautiful day and I felt so blessed to be able to be there and actually do this hike that I had heard about for so long.  I would most definitely do it again if I had the chance!  I’m hoping to take my children with me to do the hike one day,” said R. Carroll. And R. Carroll isn’t the only one that is looking forward to going back. After completing his twenty-four mile, rim to rim “Redemption Hike” only a year after being diagnosed with brain cancer, Walther said, “I’m definitely planning on another rim to rim hike again one day.”