Bradley McGarry needs no snapshots or home videos to jog his memory as he vividly recounts hiking the Grand Canyon in 2010 with son, Connor, 9, who has Angelman Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that causes seizures, gate control and lack of speech.
Their itinerary was managed by Conquer the Canyon, which creates adventures for individuals and groups, including people whose lives are affected by genetic disorders, cancers, diabetes, homelessness and poverty.
The experience was so rewarding, McGarry said, that he sought to create the same opportunity this spring for students of the Asperger Initiative at Mercyhurst (AIM), which he coordinates. Plans are moving forward for an AIM Conquer The Canyon
trip to Arizona May 20-24 for 15-20 faculty, staff and students. A few remaining spots are open to the public, McGarry added.
McGarry said the trip is intended to raise awareness of Asperger Syndrome and AIM while creating an opportunity for participants to experience the Grand Canyon and its surroundings with expert guides who are adept at dealing with hikers spanning all degrees of difficulty. The trip includes travel through the Sonoran Desert to the Red Rock Country of Sedona, through Oak Creek Canyon and onto the Grand Canyon, as well as a “calm water” float on the Colorado River.
To help offset expenses, McGarry said AIM will organize several fundraisers in the months ahead, including one with Bob Evans restaurants on Dec. 8 and 11 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. each day. Bob Evans will donate 15 percent of its sales from patrons who present “Conquer the Canyon” fliers at any of the restaurant’s three Erie area locations. Mercyhurst students will be at the restaurants to distribute the fliers. Also, mark your calendar for Jan. 28, which is AIM Night at the Erie Bayhawks. A percentage of ticket sales will go toward the trip.
Those interested may also sponsor
an individual hiker or the team.
For more information, contact McGarry at 824-2451.