Above: Bruce and Paula Cote celebrate their hike with Urban Impact. (Photo courtesy Greg Pytlik).

Ninety percent of Appalachian Trail hikers don’t complete the 2,181-mile trek, but luckily for the Northside, Bruce and Paula Cote did and raised $70,000 for Urban Impact and Northside youth in the process.

The Cotes celebrated their homecoming with a reception thrown by Urban Impact on August 16, to thank the couple for their efforts which will benefit Urban Impact’s Options post-high school transition program.

Urban Impact is a faith-based nonprofit on the Northside that serves kids and families. The Options program focuses on getting teenagers in the right direction with plans to pursue a job, college, tradeschool, the military or ministry. Ninety seven percent of the program’s participants graduate from high school and 80 percent enroll in college.

The Cotes hiked the trail to check it off their personal bucket lists and to raise support for Urban Impact. They collected donations and pledges from sponsors that totaled over $70,000 as they made their way from Georgia to Maine.

"We know that every step we take is helping the inner-city youth of Pittsburgh one person, one family, one block at a time," Bruce said on his trail blog.

Despite 30-mph winds, rain, sun, snow, flooding and even a hiker’s stomach bug the Cotes finished two months ahead of schedule and were welcomed by the Urban Impact Community.

"Bruce had the odds stacked against him for this journey, but his passion to help Urban Impact youth motivated him to go the distance," explains Pastor Ed Glover, the nonprofit’s Founder and President. "And Bruce will help North Side kids make it against the odds they face.”

Bruce recently retired as the Senior Associate Pastor of Christ Church at Grove Farm in Sewickley. He is an avid hiker, hunter, golfer, fisherman and woodworker and recently published “Hunting for Life,” a book in which he relates personal hunting experiences to spiritual truths. Paula is a certified elementary education teacher.