Ultimate Hike Brings Couple Together
"If it hadn't been for the Ultimate Hike, I'm really not sure how we would have found each other."


Foothills Spring groupWhen Chris's son, Noah, was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 4 her world was turned upside down. Noah had surgery to remove the tumor, but it came back 6 months later. After his relapse, Noah endured 14 months of chemotherapy, and in 2011 his MRI showed him to be cancer free. The family was overjoyed with the news. Unfortunately, Noah passed away unexpectedly in his sleep on March 4, 2011, just 3 weeks away from his 7th birthday.

Shortly after Noah's death, his family decided to get involved with the Charlotte CureSearch Walk as a way to raise money for children's cancer research in hopes that one day, no other family would go through the same kind of pain that they had. "I had decided that there is SO much funding out there for breast cancer and colon cancer, and Alzheimer's," explains Chris. "I didn't understand why we weren't spending more time and money on helping the littlest, most helpless group in our population...our kiddos."

After the CureSearch Walk, Chris's friend told her about the Ultimate Hike and it clicked, she knew that she had to take this challenge to make a big stand for children with cancer. She started training immediately. Chris had never run a 10K in her life, and now she was going to hike 28.3 miles. "I guess I just knew that Noah would be with me every step of the way, so I felt that I couldn't fail," says Chris.

During one of her training hikes, her friends brought a new addition to their training group, John. The guys sped off down the trail, but left little treats along the way for the ladies to find. After the hike, Chris suggested that the group go out for lunch, and she and John enjoyed getting to know each other, immediately friending each other on Facebook once they got home. The group planned another weekend of hiking and invited everyone to bring their kids. The night before the hike at dinner, Chris and John chatted the whole time. When they returned to their hotel, Chris and John stayed up until 2:00 am talking. They immediately started planning their next hike, which got rained out, but allowed Chris and John the opportunity to spend even more quality time together and started a new chapter for both of them. "If it hadn't been for the Ultimate Hike, I'm really not sure how we would have found each other," says Chris.

Their training was put to the test at the Spring Foothills Ultimate Hike in 2013. The 28.3 miles were tough for both of them with John hitting "the wall," an emotional and physical road block, at mile 24. "I learned, through my friends, ways to push through 'the wall’," says John. "The knowledge and practice of getting through 'the wall' reinforces a very powerful emotion - planning and perseverance will propel me through any 'wall' I take interest in passing through." Whenever Chris was feeling the pain of hiking, she would remember her son Noah, and all the pain that he went through during treatment. With that in mind, she knew she could finish.

Foothills Spring groupTheir relationship continued after the Ultimate Hike, with Chris and John traveling between their homes in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Easley, South Carolina respectively. They felt like they had known each other forever, and knew that they were in this relationship for the long haul. Chris had a family vacation planned to Navarre Beach in Florida, but when the family she was supposed to be vacationing with backed out, she invited John and his kids to come along. They spent the vacation allowing their children to get to know each other better and taking long walks around the beach community. There was one house on their walks that caught their eye, a large tudor style home that could fit both of their families and all their friends. One night, as they went on a bike ride and rode past the house again, they stopped to notice the view of the gulf and John said that he had a great idea; they should come back next year and get married on the beach right in front of the house. Chris of course agreed - they both can't wait to get married next year and start their lives together.

Shelby Hammond
Communications Manager
Email Shelby
(240) 235-2205



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