Hikers take on the Appalachian Trail for Northside youth


Bruce and Paula Cote are hiking to raise money for Urban Impact. (Photo courtesy Bruce Cote).

What do Northside kids and the Appalachian Trail have in common? A couple by the name of Bruce and Paula Cote.

This March, the Cotes will set out to hike the 2,181 miles Appalachian Trail, which runs from Georgia to Maine, as part of a six-month fundraising effort for the Northside’s Urban Impact.

“[We decided] if we’re going to do this,” said Bruce Cote, “We need to do this for a purpose.”

Their purpose, Cote explained, is to provide disadvantaged youth in the Northside with academic and career options through Urban Impact.

Urban Impact is a faith-based community organization that offers academic assistance, athletic programs and performing arts opportunities for local students.

Urban Impact’s Options program, which has been specially earmarked by the Cotes to benefit from their fundraising efforts, helps students set goals in five different career areas: college academics, trade schools, industry jobs, military service or ministry work.

Urban Impact has a 97 percent high school graduation rate for their students that contrasts dramatically with the overall 60 percent graduation rate in local high schools.

“The odds are really stacked against them,” said Cote, “Just as the odds are stacked against Paula and I being able to complete this hike.”

The Cotes’ website, brucetakesahike.com will chronicle the couple’s journey, which will begin March 15

 According to their website, only 10 percent of all through hikers on the Appalachian Trail complete the journey.

“I refuse to comprehend the question,” said Cote, when asked about the likelihood of falling into the failed 90 percent. “Failure is not an option.”

Dell is more of a realist.

“Even if they don’t make it the full 2,000 plus miles, [they will] still make money and help us in some way,” she said.

The Cotes are accepting both flat donations and pledges per mile, which are tax-deductible and go directly to Urban Impact.

But aside from the philanthropic benefits of their journey, Paula Cote said she looks forward to discovering “who and what God puts in out path” as well as “spending time together.”

“We have friends who are going to come out and aid us at different points along the trail,” she said.

“We’re behind them 100 percent,” said Dell.

For more information or to make a donation, go to www.brucetakesahike.com.

Francesca Fenzi is a senior at Carnegie Mellon University.

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