A Special Wanderlust

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Their shirts are sweaty, their calves are burning and they both breath heavily. In the scorching heat of Italy, Verena and Nadine set one step ahead of the next. It keeps going uphill, getting steeper and steeper. Then, finally, they make it to the summit of Monte Zoccolare. The friends hug each other in relief. Soon they will send their supporters a selfie to keep them informed about their extraordinary fund-raiser. Back in civilization, they answer a few questions for us.

Verena and Nadine, a few weeks ago you decided to bring "Hike for those who can't" to life. What is behind it?
Our goal was to walk 150 kilometres and raise money for spinal cord research. We often take our bodies performance and achievements for granted, while others have to experience the sad reality, that their body is not able to move the way they want it to. For this reason, it is nice to combine a project like this with a charity and raise awareness. Wings for Life was our constant companion during our hike.

We are happy to hear that! Why hiking in particular?
I think the excitement makes up the combination of the whole package: the sweating and the effort with a lot of "cursing" up to the summit followed by the excitement of having made it and the rewarding outlook from the top. At the same time, nature slowly wanders past one, which is the ideal activity to switch off from the daily office routine and our fast paced world. 

Where did your hiking tour for spinal cord research take you?
We spent a total of ten days in Sicily at the beginning of July and have hiked every day except at the weekend where we spent some downtime at the beach. Most of our tours were on and around the Etna, which is a fantastic spot. We climbed the Monte Zoccolare and the Pizzo Carbonara. And we did a very nice and very hot tour through the Alkantara valley.

This sounds exhausting...
It was very exhausting indeed. We planned our hiking routes for the next two days, which made the preparation quite simple. We kicked off our tours early in the morning in order to leave some time for a short dip in the sea upon our return from the mountains. Furthermore, we always brought fresh fruit, water and sandwiches along on our trips. To optimize our time at the planned hiking routes, we looked out for accommodation as close as possible, which we booked 2 or 3 days in advance. The most exhausting part however were the unmarked routes, which made each trip adventurous. 

What were the highlights of your hike?
We had to conquer the mount Zoccolare twice! The background, that despite GPS we could not find the trail and climbed the mountain off path. It turned out to be a bad idea! After a while, our legs were full of scratch marks from the trees and bushes and we had to literally climb the very steep slope on all fours through a slippery sandy surface at one stage. This was when we noticed that our mobile phone and sunglasses went missing in the sandy surface, which was covered with old leaves. We dug up the area for an hour to look for it. Lucky us: everything was found, but we decided to end the hike and swapped it for a few beers at the beach. Two days later we tried again and had more success. It was the best moment when we took a picture at the summit cross.

How did you manage to motivate people to contribute to your walk?
We told our family, friends and colleagues about our project and asked for donations. In general, people spend a lot of money for things that are not necessarily needed. However, a small donation means the world to individuals, who dependant on the progress of the research to cure spinal cord injury. For us, it was important to create the awareness and we were lucky to have found a lot of supporters with the same motives.
In addition, the company Nadine works for is heavily involved in volunteering activities: Employees are encouraged to take part in volunteering events and can swap 7 working days to participate in a volunteering activity. In addition, Salesforce contributes to individual donations and the products are awarded to charities at a reduced rate. This creates its own corporate culture within Salesforce, where we have also found many great supporters. 

After completing your trip successfully, how does it feel to have mastered this challenge together?It was just great! A hiking trip in general is a great experience but combined with good cause creates the awareness that unfortunately not everyone is able to physically hike up a mountain for health reasons. 

Thank you so much setting up such a great campaign. 100% of your donation will directly go into spinal cord research.

Verena Scheucher and Nadine Jax both studied in St. Pölten after their leaving exam in school. Verena studied media management and Nadine media technology. After graduation, Verena moved to Vienna and Nadine to Dublin. With their fundraiser "Hike for those who can't", the friends followed their great passion and walked for a good cause. Do you have a fundraising idea? Tell us more about it.