Matthew Grasso, a 2013 wildlife conservation graduate from the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), embarked on an 80-mile “Trek for Cancer” this fall in order to raise awareness and funds for pancreatic cancer research and the Lustgarten Foundation. Accompanying him on the excursion was Erin Cordiner, a fellow University of Delaware graduate and organizational and community leadership major.
“For me it originated as just a mental and physical challenge I wanted to experience. Then I become more passionate about raising money afterwards,” said Grasso. “For Erin it was more geared towards raising money. Her grandmother died of pancreatic cancer and so it was originally her idea to start collecting donations.”
The nine-day hike, which ran from September 29-October 7, began at Pine Cobble trail in Williamstown, Massachusetts and took Grasso and Cordiner up through Vermont, bypassing many towns along the way including Stamford, Bennington, Stratton, and Manchester Center.
Grasso described his journey with Cordiner as being truly incredible and the result of a shared love for the outdoors and a passion for helping others in need.
“Not only were the sites and fall foliage breathtaking, but we learned a ton about ourselves, each other and the mental and physical challenges of backpacking,” said Grasso. “We also had the pleasure of meeting a bunch of unforgettable fun and quirky people.”
Grasso said that a typical day on the hike began by waking at first light, quickly making breakfast consisting of oatmeal and tea, and then setting off with 34-38 pound packs through sunshine or rain. “Even though we had rainproof gear, the rain still finds a way into your backpack, jacket and shoes,” he said.
The hike had the pair traversing over and through boulders, beaver dams, bogs, streams, and rugged peaks, although they always took time to stop and enjoy lookout points over the mountains. Dinner involved macaroni and cheese, ramen, or stuffing. “We were lucky enough to have fun people hiking the same way as us with whom we could talk and joke around with during dinner,” said Grasso.
Grasso said he and Cordiner had planned to complete the entire trail, which encompasses 273 miles, but after Cordiner received a marketing and public relations position in Manhattan, they had to cut the trip short.
“I considered finishing the trail by myself, but realized this was something we started together and thus had to end together. It simply wouldn’t have felt right going on without her,” said Grasso. The pair plans to complete the full trail in the near future. For more information, contact Grasso at matthewPgrasso@gmail.com or Cordiner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For now, Grasso is working with an arborist as well as aiding William Macaluso, a master’s level student in CANR, to reintroduce Northern Bobwhite quail to Long Island until he and Cordiner decide to re-embark and finish their journey.
Article by Angela Carcione