Helping an addict to recover is often a series of steps taken one at a time. Saratoga Hospital is taking that literally in its new hike fundraising campaign, the Above and Beyond Challenge, presented by the Adirondack Trust Co.
The Challenge encourages businesses and individuals to take advantage of the scenic geography of Upstate New York, while raising funds and awareness for the Addiction Medicine Program at the Saratoga Community Health Center.
This new program features volunteer-led hikes up peaks across the Adirondacks, including the 46 High Peaks, the Lake George Twelve Peaks and the Saranac Six Peaks. The hikes are free and will include a committed adherence to responsible hiking with respect to the natural beauty and protection of the trails, hospital officials said.
The Above and Beyond Challenge is the brainchild of Stephan R. von Schenk, president and CEO of Adirondack Trust Co. and former chair of the Saratoga Foundation Board, who is an avid hiker and outdoorsman.
“The disease of addiction is heartbreaking for all involved,” said von Schenk. “I had heard success stories of addiction and the power of outdoor exercise to heal, so I thought, why not incorporate the beauty of the Adirondacks with addiction and let these mountains do what they have done for centuries—provide spiritual and physical healing for all?”
He reached out to Saratoga Hospital for help, and the foundation was quick to assist. So was the business community. Within a day of von Schenk reaching out, Roohan Realty agreed to be the T-shirt sponsor, he said.
“The response is exciting,” said von Schenk, “and we hope this momentum will encourage people to come out to support addiction treatment, as well as enjoy these beautiful mountains with responsible hiking that will keep these trails a treasure for generations to come.”
Officials said that like so many counties across the state and nation, Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties face escalating numbers of families struggling with substance use disorders and addiction, impacting an estimated 17,689 children and adults in Saratoga County alone. There is strong, research-based evidence that correlates hiking or other outdoor activity with more successful addiction program outcomes.
The Above and Beyond Challenge is an opportunity for patients to introduce adventure therapy into their treatment plan.
“We haven’t even reached the tipping point of the opioid crisis yet,” said Dr. Joshua Zamer, medical director of the Addiction Medicine Program at Saratoga Community Health Center. “The funds raised by the Above and Beyond Challenge will help us continue to expand our Addiction Medicine Program to meet rapidly emerging needs.”
Donations are encouraged, but the hikes are free and registration is required. The hikes are taking place through September and are open to individuals, patients, and groups. Upon completing the online registration for a hike at aboveandbeyondchallenge.org, a peer-to-peer fundraising page will be automatically generated for the hiker. Should the hiker choose to activate it, they can then share that link with friends and family, asking for donations to support the hike. Donations of $100 will receive a free long-sleeved T-shirt sponsored by Roohan Realty.
Businesses and individuals are invited to sponsor a peak at the $2,000, $1,000; or $500 levels and receive a custom Summit Flag, Above and Beyond Challenge T-shirts, and additional recognition based on sponsorship level.
For more information about becoming a sponsor, call Saratoga Hospital Foundation at 518-583-8340. To learn more about the Above and Beyond Challenge or to register for a hike, visit aboveandbeyondchallenge.org. New dates and trails will be continually added over the summer. Check back often or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information.