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Celebrating Grandma Gatewood

Every October, Prime Time for Women honors Emma “Grandma” Gatewood for her determination, perseverance, resilience, and belief in herself!  Gatewood was the first woman to solo thru-hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, which she accomplished at the tender young age of 67!  Though she was a survivor of horrific domestic violence that left her hospitalized many times, she never gave up on her dreams. When she was discouraged from hiking the 2,091 miles of the trail, she did it anyway! She was not limited by the perceptions of others. Grandma Gatewood embraced challenges as adventures and pursued possibilities rather than probabilities. It’s no wonder that I jokingly refer to her as the “poster woman” for Prime Time for Women. 

This year on a cool, windy Saturday morning, thirty-three women gathered at Pen Mar Park to follow in Gatewood’s footsteps…literally and figuratively.  After registering, distributing swag bags, and handing out the BEST hiking shirts ever, everyone was invited to pick a gold-painted rock, symbolizing our best traits and qualities. As we headed south on the Appalachian Trail, enjoying the breathtaking view of the Cumberland Valley in its full autumnal glory, women bonded as they shared inspiring stories and explained how they embody the quality on their rock! The Gentle Hike participants took an out-and-back trail and then participated in a Grandma Gatewood/Strong Woman Workshop led by Tina Fraley, a PTFW board member and owner of Power House Studios. Tina, who encouraged the women to share their dreams, said, “It was an honor to present today’s workshop and guide a meditation on the rocks for Prime Time for Women. I am grateful for the women who shared the wind with me today!”


Those hiking the Intermediate/Advanced Hike traveled south toward High Rock Overlook, a little over three miles from Pen Mar Park. The trail was relatively flat for the first two miles with rolling hills and glorious views of the valley below, giving nature lovers a chance to enjoy the beauty of the natural world.  But the last mile of this trial was a bit more demanding, to say the least!  Hikers climbed, scaled, and clambered up a long, steep, rocky incline, gaining 838.6 feet in elevation before reaching the majestic High Rock Overlook. Once at the top, resounding cheers rang out above the valley below as all the hikers gathered for celebratory group photos. 

It was a great day and a great way to support two worthy nonprofits, Prime Time for Women and Be The Match.  Because Prime Time for Women understands the power of connections to improve the health of individuals and communities, we donate a portion of the proceeds from our Annual Grandma Gatewood fundraiser to another worthy nonprofit.  The past two years we raised funds for and amplified the message of CASA, Inc (Citizens Assisting and Sheltering the Abused) and Breast Cancer Awareness of Cumberland Valley.   This year, for very personal reasons, the Grandma Gatewood Legacy Hike is benefiting Be The Match.  I believe Grandma Gatewood, who knew what it was like to face tough odds, would be honored that Prime Time for Women is helping blood cancer patients, like my nephew, Drew, receive life-saving bone marrow transplants.

Grandma Gatewood

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