Tag: Hike4Kids

After hiking 20 miles yesterday and hiking over two hours in the dark, I was relieved to make it back to the trailhead and get in my car.

After losing time escorting others off the trail I knew it would take a monster effort the final days to finish by the deadline.  I know you all would have accepted my effort regardless being the amazing people that you are, but I owed you nothing less than my best.

The past 5 days were hell and I’m having trouble walking but I can tell you this:  in the past month, I hiked, climbed, and scrambled my way on foot to and from the summit of all 48 four thousand footers in New Hampshire.  The week prior to that I did all five in Vermont.  I am sorry to say I ran out of time and did not get to go to Maine to do the fourteen mountains there.

I am going to make a separate video montage for each organization I hiked for with the summit photos and text/voice over explaining why I support the organization.  Then I will post the link on YouTube and forward it to you.  Each organization will have its own video.  My goal is for it to generate donations/raise awareness for your organization.  I have a pretty clear vision of what I’d like to do and I think you’ll like it.  It should take me a few weeks.

Thank you all for believing in me.  My own mother and father did not see anything of value in me so your belief is something I do not take lightly.  I did what I did to help children, but the more I think about it I think there is a secondary factor as well.  All those years I was told that I was worthless because I wasn’t good-looking, athletic, etc.  And my mother was right, I am not Rock Hudson or a great athlete.  But the measure of a human being is not whether someone can slam dunk a basketball or look like a movie star.  There is something much more substantial than all of that, and I’d like to think of it as the power of the human spirit.  And I think I showed some of that spirit on my hikes.

I hope others are inspired to believe that they too are capable of more than they ever thought possible.

Above is a photo from the final mountain, Bondcliff.

See you soon, I’m coming home!

Blog post submitted by: MBA student Mike McLaughlin

After a long day of driving my legs upward while sweat dripped profusely from my brow, I slept soundly in a quiet, primitive campground in the White Mountains.

But I woke suddenly to the sounds of our second tent (used to store gear) being ripped apart.

Michael McLaughlin, aka “Standing Bear”,  is climbing all 4000-foot peaks in New Hampshire this summer to raise awareness for several organizations dedicated to improving the lives of abused and neglected children. This is third blog post from Mike on his 2013 Hike4Kids.

Half asleep, I woke my wife up and told her that raccoons might be ransacking our tent.  As I fumbled for my glasses, my wife peeked outside the tent to see what was making all the commotion.  As she did so, I heard a violent crash and the send of a tent pole being snapped like a twig.  Brooke quickly recoiled into the tent.  “It’s a bear!  It’s a bear!” she said, quite startled.

“How big is it?” I asked, having found my glasses and put my headlamp on.

“Big enough that you don’t want to go outside,” she replied.

But I knew I had to go outside.  If I didn’t, the bear might soon turn its attention to our tent, which was just three to four feet away from the other tent.  I unzipped the tent and stepped outside.  I quickly moved to the front of the two tents and saw the bear for the first time.

It was the largest black bear I had ever seen.

Fear descended upon me.  With one fell swoop of its paw, the bear inflicted considerable damage on the tent.  Then it turned to look at me.

Startled, at both the bear’s size and at the fact that it now stood face to face with me less than five feet away, I backed up, jumping on top of the car to make myself appear larger.  I yelled at the bear and began flashing my headlamp, and I began to regain my confidence.

But then the bear disregarded the tent and began to come quickly toward me.

My heart quaked with fear.  I knew I was no match for the bear but I dared not run.  I held my ground and stared directly at the bear.  As it neared me I braced for impact and got ready for a fight, but the bear suddenly turned and retreated into the woods.

I told my wife to take the car keys and lock herself inside the car, and then I packed up our belongings as I listened intently for the bear’s return.  It never came back.

We lost a nice tent but gained a newfound respect for black bears.

Blog post and photo submitted by MBA student Mike McLaughlin



I stood perched on a ledge several thousand feet up the side of Mt. Mansfield and decided against my better judgment to cast my gaze downward.

Michael McLaughlin summons incredible courage as he details a climb at Mt. Mansfield in Vermont. This is second blog post from Mike on his 2013 Hike4Kids.

As I stared at the small trees far below, I got weak in the knees and almost lost my balance.  I wheeled around to clutch the rock face behind me.

Perhaps this wasn’t so bad… after all, I was afraid of heights– maybe I was making more out of this than what it was.  I decided to wait for another hiker to pass by and hoped they would scamper upward without giving it a second thought, thus assuaging my fears.

Mt. Mansfield, highest peak in Vermont. View of the summit, also known as the “chin”.

A couple of young, fit hikers soon arrived at the ledge.  The woman looked down.  “Oh my god,” she said.  “This is treacherous.”   I guess it’s not just me, I told myself.

Her male companion stared down for a moment, then said, “It’s nothing to be concerned about.  Just a 600 foot drop.”

They cautiously scrambled up the rock face and disappeared into the glare of the sun above.

I knew I couldn’t do this.  I was terrified, and I knew that it was at times like this that my fear would overtake me, with my legs turning to spaghetti as my body became overwhelmed with the sense that I was losing my balance.  There was no way I could scramble up a nearly vertical rock wall with a lethal fall as the penalty for even the slightest mistake.

Every bit of reason I had was screaming for me to turn back and head down the mountain, that whatever lay at the summit wasn’t worth risking my life for.  And just when I was at the point that I had almost convinced myself that I couldn’t do it, I dug my boot into a small groove in the rock wall, reached up, and began climbing.

After about the fourth time I shifted my boot up the rock face, I was overtaken with the sensation that I had lost my balance and my legs buckled underneath me.  I strengthened my grip and dug my nails hard into the rock, feeling the pain course through my fingers as all my body weight was transferred to my arms.

Fight or flight kicked in and adrenaline coursed through my veins as I realized that letting go at this point meant I would go flying into the abyss below.  I summoned the strength to hang on and then hurled an arm at a crack in the rock above and began pulling myself toward it.

I hauled myself up and over the ledge and again felt gravity pulling me downward.  I scurried to a wedge between the rocks and planted myself there, temporarily regaining my strength and then crawling up the remaining rock face on my hands and knees until I was blinded by the sun whose rays soon encompassed me.

I was on the summit of Mansfield, the highest mountain in the state of Vermont.   Moments later I was proudly displaying the flags of the organizations I’m climbing for, smiling for the photos, but knowing in my heart that the challenges were far from over.  I had over 50 additional mountains to climb.

But the organizations I’m supporting climb mountains every single day with the important work they do, and it’s the least I can do to do this for six weeks.    Tomorrow will certainly bring new challenges but we need not fear if we summon the courage to overcome them.

Photo credit: Mt. Mansfield in Vermont, Elevation: 4393 ft / 1339 m


Hiking the Appalachain and Ozark Trails back-to-back last year was just the beginning for MBA student Michael McLaughlin. This summer, Mike is carrying the Hike4Kids flag (and others), to the top of all 48 four thousand-foot peaks in New Hampshire to bring attention to the needs of abused and abandoned children around the world.

Here’s Mike’s first blog post from New Hampshire:

Upon reaching the summit of Katahdin after a 4,200 foot climb last September, I retrieved a flag from my tattered pack and proudly displayed it as the wind whipped furiously.

I soon found that the photo of this Hike4Kids flag was an inspiration to many, not just because I brought it to a unique place but rather because it symbolized the tremendous communal effort that took place to change children’s lives.

Some people would have never thought that such an initiative might be born out of a business school, or that it would extend its influence as far as it did, but this was the magic of Hike4Kids… and all of that magic and inspiration was somehow encapsulated in the photo of the Hike4Kids banner flying high on the final mountain of the Appalachian Trail.

Ryan and Kimbrell Rakestraw brought that same flag halfway around the globe and carried it to the snowy peak of Mount Kilimanjaro where some of that  same magic was recaptured again.

The inspiration surrounding Hike4Kids extended not only to the community at large, but also to the Olin MBA applicant pool, and thankfully resulted in Abhishek Chakravarty coming to Olin this past fall.  Abhi hails from a poor, rural section of India in which many children do not even learn to read, and his goal in life is to one day return home and give those children the opportunities they so desperately need.

He said his dream is to one day bring the Hike4Kids banner to the summit of Mt. Everest, but we decided to start small and bring it to the top of every peak in New England that is at least 4,000 feet tall.

But this time, I’m bringing multiple flags, each one representing an amazing organization that has partnered with Hike4Kids along the way and has helped serve the needs of underprivileged children.

Flags for Foster Care India, Marygrove, the Family Resource Center, TeamMBA, and Unite4Kids are bundled in my pack as I climb toward each summit.  Rain or shine, each flag will be displayed on each summit, and at the end of the journey I plan to make a video montage for each organization that shows photos of their flag on each summit along with a brief explanation of what their organization does and why I chose to carry their flag.

But the best part is, I will not be alone on those summits.  My wife will be joining me, as well as Abhi and another dedicated, compassionate student named Saurabh Singh.

And on each summit, I will never lose sight of the fact that many of you are with us in spirit, as your contributions, kindness, and encouragement have made all this possible and in so doing changed the lives of countless children.

We can, and will, change the world.


GMAC -the Graduate Management Admission Council – honors graduate business and management students who are “in the business of giving back” with the annual TeamMBA awards. Olin and MBA student Michael McLaughlin were awarded the institutional and project prizes today in Vancouver, British Columbia. Congratulations to Mike and everyone who helped to make Hike4Kids a success!

Here’s the news release from GMAC:

VANCOUVER, BC–(Marketwired – Jun 20, 2013) – MBA student Michael McLaughlin, who trekked 2,500 miles to raise money and awareness for abused and neglected children, and his school, the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, were named winners of the 2013 TeamMBA Awards Thursday in Vancouver, British Columbia. The annual awards are presented by the Graduate Management Admission Council to honor graduate business and management students “in the business of giving back.”

McLaughlin took a semester off from his business studies to embark on Hike4Kids, becoming the first person to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail and the Ozark Trail back-to-back. Chronicling his journey on Hike4Kids.com, he raised awareness and more than $15,000 for the Family Resource Center in St. Louis and a school for blind and neglected children in Cameroon, founded by one of McLaughlin’s MBA classmates.

“It is a tremendous honor to receive international recognition from the GMAC,” said McLaughlin, who was unable to accept the award in person. “As MBA students who are in the process of transitioning into such leadership roles, we should be cognizant of social issues and our part to play in finding solutions. This is what makes the TeamMBA program so necessary; it inspires MBA students to look toward and embrace a pivotal role not just as leaders in the business community, but as leaders in the world.”

A scholarship student who is pursuing an MBA at the Olin Business School, McLaughlin inspired his fellow students to follow his example of excellence. Olin was named the TeamMBA institutional award winner for hosting numerous events to support Hike4Kids, including concerts, dinners, entrepreneurship panels, mentorship programs, teaching financial literacy to underprivileged youth, and clothing drives.

Greg Hutchings, Olin’s assistant dean and director of the specialized masters program, accepted the awards on behalf of McLaughlin and the Olin School at the opening session of the Graduate Management Admission Council’s Annual Conference in Vancouver.

TeamMBA Awards have been awarded annually since 2008 to recognize graduate business students and schools that exemplify a commitment to social responsibility. This is the first year that the individual project and institutional awards have come from the same school.

“Had I known Michael in 2004, when we first dreamed of what TeamMBA might become, he would have been our role model,” said GMAC President and CEO Dave Wilson, who founded TeamMBA and presented the awards. “Michael is dedicated to improving the lives of others. He and the Olin School have demonstrated the values we nurture with TeamMBA.”

The first individual to win the TeamMBA Award for best project, McLaughlin receives $500 for his charity. TeamMBA, which encourages and promotes social responsibility among graduate business and management students around the world, is administered through the GMAC Management Education for Tomorrow Fund, which formalizes GMAC’s commitment to giving back to move management education forward.

About GMAC: The Graduate Management Admission Council (gmac.com) is a nonprofit education organization of leading graduate business schools and owner of the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT exam), used by more than 5,800 graduate business and management programs worldwide. GMAC is based in Reston, Virginia, and has regional offices in London, New Delhi and Hong Kong. The GMAT exam — the only standardized test designed expressly for graduate business and management programs worldwide — is continuously available at more than 570 test centers in 110 countries. More information about the GMAT exam is available at mba.com. Please visit www.gmac.com/newscenter.