Arizona Trail Project
When avid outdoorsman Chip Tolleson learned his longtime friend Pete Kuehner was diagnosed with brain cancer, he naturally wanted to help. The question was, how? The answer came by way of the Arizona Trail.
The 800-plus mile trail meanders from one end of Arizona to the other, from Mexico to Utah, straddling mountain ranges and wending through deserts, forests and canyons. Tolleson decided he would cover every mile of this trail on foot to honor his friend and, at the same time, raise money to support brain cancer research.
The mission seems like the perfect match. Throughout their 17-year friendship, Tolleson and Kuehner have shared a love of the outdoors and spent a lot of time fishing, hunting and hiking together.
“Having known PK and his family for years, and having been on numerous trips with him, we always seem to have a great adventure,” says Tolleson. “When PK was diagnosed with his cancer, the courage he displayed inspired me to do something not only for him but for everyone battling cancer.”
As a full-time businessman running a couple of software/app and outdoor-advertising companies, Tolleson doesn’t have the time to hike the trail nonstop. Instead, he plans to tackle 8- to 34-mile sections of it over weekends and holidays, with the long-term goal of finishing the 800-mile journey by the end of 2016. To date, he’s already put 80 miles behind him.
Tolleson is covering all his own expenses on this venture, but welcomes others to join him on the bigger quest to support brain cancer research. Donations will be accepted through Barrow Neurological Foundation for Barrow Neurological Institute, which is where Kuehner has been receiving treatment since his diagnosis in July 2013.
Tolleson’s progress will be followed on Facebook, where he’ll also share pictures and stories of his encounters along the trail. He says he is excited to spend his time exploring all types of the Arizona terrain, but the purpose of his mission holds far greater meaning.
“Taking on the Arizona Trail will be an adventure, but more importantly I want to raise money for Barrow to find better brain cancer treatments and—ultimately—a cure. That’s what I want more than anything for my friend Pete Kuehner and anyone else suffering with this disease.”