Man with Parkinson’s hikes Appalachian Trail to benefit Susquehanna Service Dogs

CARLISLE, Pa. (WHTM) – A few years ago, you would never have found Brian McClure on the Appalachian Trail.

“For a guy who enjoys just sitting around a fire or sitting behind the TV set, this was a stretch,” McClure said.

McClure, of Middletown, and some family members hiked more than 160 miles in Pennsylvania.

“We didn’t know it was going to be 21 degrees in the mountains up north, or snowing, or raining, or 50 mph winds,” he said, “but we got it done.”

Step by step.

“It’s just like life,” he said. “It kind of winds its way up and down the East Coast, sometimes switching back on itself.  It’s a crooked journey, and it turns out life’s a crooked journey as well.”

McClure found that out in 2012 when he was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease.  It started with common symptoms like tremors.

“I knew something wasn’t quite right,” he said. “My balance wasn’t quite right. I was getting more and more stiff, slowness of movement, things like that.”

Parkinson’s isn’t fatal, but it usually progresses until the person is completely debilitated.

While McClure could still hike the Appalachian Trail. He did it during April, Parkinson’s Awareness Month, for his cause, Barkin for Parkinson’s. Money raised will benefit Susquehanna Service Dogs.

“Susquehanna Service Dogs raises and trains balance dogs and these balance dogs help more than just Parkinson’s patients,” he said.

McClure and his family finished their hike Tuesday outside of Carlisle. The lesson learned will remain. It’s a lesson that applies to any journey.

“You don’t have to do it alone,” he said. “With friends and support, you can do anything you want. It doesn’t matter if you have Parkinson’s. It doesn’t matter what you have. You can get it done.”

The reason why McClure finished the hike when and where he did is because Spring Carlisle starts Wednesday. There will be two Barkin for Parkinson’s fundraisers at the event.

Lancaster Brewing Company brewed a special beer called Blue Trail. It’s a lemon blueberry Shandy. Part of the proceeds will go to Barkin for Parkinson’s. The company will release the beer Friday at Spring Carlisle and then at both Lancaster Brewing Company locations starting Saturday.

A car auction also will benefit Barkin for Parkinson’s.  William H. Wessels Used Cars of Dillsburg donated a car that will be auctioned off at Spring Carlisle. The auction runs April 21-22 at the Carlisle Expo Center.

To donate to Barkin for Parkinson’s, visit https://www.keystonehumanservices.org/donate/make-a-donation.php/?f=3&hmo=1.

Thanks to a local, generous donor, every donation will be matched through the end of the month. The donor has already donated $10,000 to the cause.

To follow McClure on his journey, visit his blog, http://www.spillinbeerwithbrian.com/barkin-for-parkinsons-trail-hike-16/#sthash.iF6fIjE7.dpuf.

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