Cumberland Times-News

March 16, 2013

Keyser brothers planning 2,600-mile hike to fight hunger

Elaine Blaisdell
Cumberland Times-News

— KEYSER, W.Va. — Brothers Aaron Agnew and Andy Agnew III plan to hike nearly 2,650 miles from the border of California and Mexico into British Columbia, Canada, on the Pacific Crest Trail to aid their community’s fight against hunger.

“The war against hunger is truly mankind’s war of liberation,” states the John F. Kennedy quote on the Keyser brothers’ website.

During the thru-hike the Agnews will accept donations with 90 percent to go toward the Faith in Action Food Pantry, which provides nutritional assistance to struggling families. The remaining 10 percent of the donations will go toward transportation to the trail and a possible hotel along the trip, according to Aaron.

“We are very excited for them and the community,” said Judy Young, president of the food pantry. “They have great hearts. Any donations we receive as a result is an extra blessing for us.”

The Agnews aren’t strangers to thru-hikes; in 2010 they both hiked the Appalachian Trail. The hike, which began in northern Georgia and ended in Maine, took more than six months to complete, Aaron said.

“...the adventure would leave me changed forever,” Aaron wrote on the website.

Aaron said that he was apprehensive about joining Andy and friend Abe Herbaugh of Augusta on the PCT. Herbaugh will participate in the hike but will not be involved with the fundraiser, according to Aaron.

 “Though a thru-hike can be quite enjoyable, it can also be just as daunting,” wrote Aaron on the website.

One of the biggest challenges the Agnews will face is finishing the trip.

“A trip of this size will pose both physical and mental stress for us,” said Aaron. “Looking back on the last trip, I think that just keeping my mind set on finishing was the most difficult aspect of the hike.”

The Agnews will begin their journey on May 9 but will arrive in California about five days prior to beginning the hike. Aaron hopes to finish the trip in five months.

Preparing for a trip of this magnitude is an ongoing task for the Agnews. They are continuously checking and rechecking gear, food, finances and doing what they can to keep their legs in shape.

“We take shorter trips frequently throughout the year to test gear and keep in shape,” said Aaron.

The Agnews will post a weekly blog about the hike on their website.

The brothers learned about the Faith in Action Food Pantry through their grandfather, Pastor Andy Agnew Sr.

The food pantry, which opened in 1984, is nonprofit and largely supported by the public and a few local businesses and organizations, according to the Agnews’ website. The pantry works based on the honor system after residency has been verified. Food is available every 30 days and records are maintained by U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service.

 Between 2005 and 2012, the number of orders served by Faith in Action increased by 118.75 percent.  In 2012 alone, nearly 1,000 households were served.

Anyone wishing to donate to the PCT hike may do so via the website at www.pct4hunger.com or by sending a check for Hike for Hunger to P.O. Box 1177, Keyser, WV 26726.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.