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April 14, 2015

Hiking for at-risk youth

Ken Dawson grew up near Detroit, in an urban environment – surrounded by concrete – constructing adventure in his backyard neighborhoods. The urban outdoors and the weekend excursions his family took always provided a sense of freedom, adventure and happiness that he says help shaped him into the person he is today.

Dawson, recently retired from Michigan State University’s Infrastructure Planning and Facilities department, has decided to share his love of the outdoors by giving back in a unique way. This month, he has embarked on a thru-hike on the Continental Divide Trail, which stretches from Mexico to Canada, called “A Continental Divide Thru – Hike: A Journey for the Kids.”

In total, he’ll be hiking 3,100 miles for 150 straight days, averaging about 20 miles per day.

With support from Big City Mountaineers, an organization dedicated to mentoring at-risk youths through outdoor wilderness programs, the more than $27,000 Dawson has raised will give teens the opportunity to experience a one-on-one mentoring program through BCM.

“If my efforts stop only one child from joining a gang, encourage one student to graduate from high school, motivate one young adult to start a non-profit or just create the opportunity for one young person to be a contributing member of society, then my cause will be a great success,” Dawson said.

For more information, and to follow along with Dawson’s trip, visit