Xtreme Hikers Hike 30 Miles for Cystic Fibrosis Research

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MARK TWAIN NATIONAL FOREST - Going for a hike can be a relaxing way to spend a day. The Xtreme Hike is anything but relaxing.

More than 30 people hiked the 30.1 mile route through the Ozark Mountain Range to raise funds and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis, starting at 4:00 a.m. and finishing in the late afternoon.  

This year's Xtreme Hike in Missouri was put on by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and is one of 17 like it around the country.

The hike was just the centerpiece for the event. The team was fund raising months before they put on their hiking boots.  Each hiker was responsible for raising at least $2,500. They did that and more. The 33 hikers raised more than $100,000 dollars for Cystic Fibrosis (CF) research.

"They've been making tremendous progress but they've been these small incremental steps," said hiker Mark Trokey. "We're ready to take this giant leap to fundamentally change the lives of these kids. It just takes money."

Mike Burke was the only Xtreme hiker who has CF, because of the risks associated with germ contamination between people who have CF. He was diagnosed when he was 14 months old.

"I was given four years to live. By the time I turned 16, and realized my life expectancy was now 18, it was pretty tough to deal with," said Burke. "On my 30th birthday after chasing life expectancies, I had surpassed it.

"I had just had enough of thinking negatively and letting the disease affect me that way, so I decided to change that," said Burke. "I started running marathons and triathlons, and hiking quite a bit, and that's really changed my life."

According to one German study, CF is most common in Caucasians, with about one in every 2500 live births diagnosed with the disease. It causes the mucus in the body to become thick and sticky, frequently causing chest infections and shortness of breath.

"Even when she's feeling well, she probably takes 40 or 50 pills a day," said Trokey, speaking about his 15-year-old daughter Isabelle who has CF.

"We don't even like to talk about how it impacts the rest of us. You can't even think about how it impacts you, when your kid is dealing with it every day," said Trokey. "Our mantra is we just push on, and we do everything, every day, to give her more days. That's what we do."

The 2014 Xtreme Hike has already been set for September 13. If you are interested in signing up for the event, email Colleen Caul at [email protected] or visit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website.