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Appalachian Trail Adventure Raising Funds for Wounded Warrior Project

Donald Root is hiking the Appalachian Trail to raise money in support of Wounded Warrior Project.
Donald Root is hiking the Appalachian Trail to raise money in support of Wounded Warrior Project.

Hiking the 2,200 miles of the Appalachian Trail is no easy feat, but for Donald Root, it has become a prominent part of life.

That’s because the mission is personal. After serving in the military for more than three decades, Donald is raising money for Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) along this hike. The Army and Navy veteran is also sharing his passion and support for the military by playing taps on his bugle every night of the adventure to honor the fallen.

Donald, now just over 70 years old, took his first step toward the 14-state trek in April of 2022, a goal he set for himself more than 50 years ago.

Beginning the journey at Harpers Ferry, he hiked roughly 900 miles of the trail over a few months, totaling about 10 miles a day, all the way up to New Hampshire. One of his daughters even joined him for 100 miles or so and plans to again soon when he reaches Virginia. Throughout the beginning of his hike in 2022, he raised more than $11,000 for WWP by sharing the endeavor with friends, family, and everyone he met along the way.

However, it hasn’t been an easy journey for Donald, who has been forced to conquer the hike in sections due to multiple obstacles. He hit several treacherous sections of the trail, and even had to take a few days off to let a leg injury heal. But he kept pushing on through unpredictable weather and injury with one thing in mind: Not only was this a personal goal he didn’t want to give up on, but he had made a promise to WWP and the organization’s donors.

Not long after hitting the 900-mile mark in July 2022, Donald contracted COVID-19, literally putting a stop to his dream when the diagnosis was confirmed at a New Hampshire hospital. But he wasn’t going to let that stand in his way for long. He spent months seeing various doctors, trying to plan when he could get back on the trail and finish what he had started.

“I went to the doctors, and everyone said I was fine, so it was like, ‘Hey, why don’t I have any wind?” he wondered.

While Donald was healthy, according to the doctors, it took more than nine months for his lungs to be able to handle the type of exercise he was planning to endure again.

Donald Root and his daughter Alison Marie at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
Donald Root and his daughter Alison Marie at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

“My wife said I needed to finish building the new kitchen cabinets first,” joked Donald. Now, new cabinets in place, he’s heading back out.

The second leg of his hike began June 19, this time from Amicalola Falls, Georgia, where he will hike about 300 miles to Asheville, North Carolina. He then plans to fly to Boston, take a bus to New Hampshire, where he was forced to stop in 2022, and then hike another 320-plus miles with a goal of getting to the trail’s northern terminus by Labor Day. He then plans to take a breather to visit his son in Richmond, Virginia, before continuing the hike from Front Royal, Virginia, back to Asheville (approximately 600 miles).

“It’s a different way of life out here,” said Donald. “You gain an appreciation for what this country has to offer that you don’t get to see living in a concrete jungle.”

He plans to complete the trail before November 2023, hoping to raise an additional $2,000 for WWP. This initiative, he says, is a main point of inspiration for him in times when it could be easy to quit – he remembers he’s doing it for something greater than himself.

Donald Root hopes to complete his trek across the Appalachian Trail in November 2023.
Donald Root hopes to complete his trek across the Appalachian Trail in November 2023.

“It’s easy to quit – anybody can do that,” Donald said. “But it’s hard to keep going. I could have said, ‘Hey, I finished half of it; that’s good enough.’ But it’s not. … You set a goal; you achieve it. I’m not satisfied yet.”

His hiking isn’t going to stop anytime soon. Donald says after the Appalachian adventure, he’s hoping to continue hiking, maybe even becoming a “Triple Crowner” by hiking the big three long-distance trails in the U.S. – the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail – totaling more than 8,000 miles. However, his main focus is to continue hiking with his family whenever he can.

“You’ve just got to hike your own hike,” said Donald. “Listen to your body, take breaks, and learn from it. Overall, it goes by fast. The miles just seem to roll on by after a while.”

To support Donald’s second leg of the hike, click here.

Find out how you can relay your passion for helping veterans by supporting WWP here.

Contact: Kaitlyn McCue, Public Relations,, 904.405.1342

About Wounded Warrior Project

Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.


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