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Third place winner Zackary Reed
South Glens Falls High School

Climbing for Evan

The beginning of the climb started alright, even though I gradually started to drift towards the back of the pack of people hiking. I just wanted to finish the hike at the top of the mountain. I was doing fine until I reached about halfway, then my knee started to throb and I was becoming out of breath. I had to stop, catch my breath, and drink some water. A part of me wanted to end my hike there. I didn't think I could keep hiking the second half of the climb. I could have easily given up, and gotten a ride from the trolley to the top of the mountain instead of continuing the walk.

Thankfully my girlfriend was there and thankfully she was able to push me and encourage me to keep going. I kept hiking, and even though at parts I wanted to stop and just be done, and parts I doubted myself and thought I didn't have it in me to make it, I didn't stop. I was in so much pain from my bad knee that I didn't think I was going to be able to finish.

Through it all I was able to finish. Even after I thought, and knew in my head I couldn't make the climb, I was able to reach the summit. It was one of the greatest feelings I have ever experienced. I felt accomplished and I felt closer to Evan. At the top I took a picture of him I have, out of my wallet, and just stared at it and began to cry, but not tears of sorrow, more tears of acceptance. I was able to accept his death and come to turns with it on that day and move on, while also keeping him in my heart.

The experience with Hike for Hope: Cody's Climb has inspired me to volunteer with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and help others who have gone through a similar experience as me. Eleanor Roosevelt once stated, "You must do the things you think you cannot do." Well on the hot May day last spring, I did just that. I proved myself wrong and climbed a mountain I told myself I couldn't climb. This year I intend to go through that pain and climb that mountain again for Hike for Hope: Cody's Climb.