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Group hikes the AT for a cause

By Jim Conrad
Published On: Apr 09 2013 06:55:13 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 07 2013 11:00:00 PM CDT

It's not your ordinary walk-a-thon -- a group is raising money while walking the Appalachian Trail.

CARTER COUNTY, Tenn. -

There are literally thousands of walk-a-thons each year -- you walk a few miles to raise money for a particular cause. But would you be up to walking almost 2,200 miles for a cause to raise money?

That's exactly what a couple of hikers are doing. They're passing through our area on the Appalachian Trail. We crossed paths with them to find out what their cause is all about.

It's like Christmas in springtime for two Appalachian Trail "through hikers" to get a care package in the mail as they make their journey northward. It's food from a Facebook friend who heard about their quest to hike the trail to raise money for Bethel Colony, a Christian addiction recovery program in Lenoir, North Carolina.

The idea was hatched by Joe Wright, who volunteered there recently. "While I was there I was just watching these people come in who are totally broken. I mean broken is not a word for it. 65 days later they leave there and be to totally different people," Wright said.

It's just what happened to him, so he and his partner Dustin Casteen decided to give back. "I figure if I can hike this thing, if God can change one person's life through Bethel, it's going to be worth it. If it just changes one, and there have been many, many more that that changed at Bethel," Wright says.

The two are 400 miles into the hike and 13 days behind schedule, but giving back to a ministry that helped them will help others. "After so many things didn't work as far as my drug addiction and trying to find a cure that really wasn't there, I came to Bethel more or less searching for a relationship with God," Dustin Casteen said.

"Only 40 percent of it is physical the other 60 percent is that focus. Trying to stay focused on what you're doing it for. If you don't have a reason to, a real good reason to do it, you're not going to make it to Maine," Wright said.

They're focused and with purpose, and there's no doubt that these two will reach their goal, not for themselves but for others.

You can follow their progress on their Facebook page, Hiking for a Heal. Click here.

To learn more about Bethel Colony, click here.